Dick Laird, whose 60-year run in bluegrass included a stint with Jimmy Martin, died Monday at his home in West York, PA. He was just two weeks short of his 75th birthday.
He had been undergoing treatment for cancer.
“It’s just devasting. It’s like losing a brother,” said Russ Hooper, who shared the stage with Dick in the band Bluestone. “I saw him Sunday. He died Monday morning.”
Charles Richard “Dick” Laird was born in York, PA, on August 13, 1944. He was a plumber by day, bluegrasser by night and weekend, with a playing style that was firmly rooted in traditional bluegrass. He was a member of the Seven Mountains Bluegrass Association and IBMA.
“He’s going to be awful hard to replace,” Hooper said. “He was an excellent, excellent mandolin player and a fantastic tenor singer.”
Laird was remembered not only for his playing, but for his sense of humor. Part of his regular stage patter while introducing Hooper was to say, “He’s been hanging around with the band for a long time, but nobody knows who actually hired him.”
Hooper, a resonator guitar player who turned down offers to tour with Flatt & Scruggs and the Country Gentlemen to stay closer to home, compared Laird to the late John Duffey, with whom he played fill-in dates with the Gents and the Seldom Scene.
“The Seldom Scene is sill a great band, but it’s not the same without John,” who died in 1996. “That’s how it’s going to be in Bluestone. It’s not going to be the same without Dick.”
Still, Hooper said, “The show does go on. Everybody in this group, they want to keep playing. We’ve been talking for the last two months about ‘what if.’ Well, ‘what if’ just happened.
The band, by choice, mostly limits its playing to southcentral Pennsylvania. “We’re playing about as much as we want to play,” Hooper said. “Nobody wants to drive 10 hours to play and make $400.”
Laird is survived by his wife of 54 years, Nancy, and two sons who play in Bluestone. Heath Laird is the band’s full-time bassist. Jeffrey Laird sits in when he can make time around his day job.
Services will be held at noon on Saturday, August 10, at St. James Lutheran Church in York. Bluegrass friends who wish to remember him may make contributions in his memory to the Seven Mountains Bluegrass Association scholarship fund, c/o Jean Snyder, 827 New Valley Road, Marysville, PA, 17053.
RIP, Dick Laird.