Don Hoos passes 

Don Hoos with his son, David, in the mid 1960s

Donald F Hoos passed away on February 25, 2018 in Skokie, north of Chicago, Illinois. He was 81 years old. He had been sick for the past six months and was in a rehabilitation centre for most of that time.

Born April 23, 1936, Hoos was a dedicated fan and student of bluegrass music, one of the many who in the 1960s set up recording equipment at festivals and other bluegrass music shows; perhaps a lesser-known participant-scholar than Pete Kuykendall, Mike Seeger, Ralph Rinzler and Neil Rosenberg, but, nevertheless, Hoos was an important part of the network of collectors that supported bluegrass music. Insofar as shows at Bean Blossom are concerned, he was actually a more regular participant. 

A pharmacist by profession, Don Hoos and brothers had a shop (a drugstore) in Evanston, Illinois, wherein “There was always banjo and bluegrass music blasting in the store,” according to Chipper Covington, who, in 1968 at the tender age of 14, worked on the photo counter at Hoos Drugs. 

He went on to say of his friend …. 

“As a young eager banjo and photo buff, working there was a dream come true. After a few years, I realized the impact Don had on other young musicians in the area. His love of bluegrass music rubbed off on all of us, or should I say everyone.”

Dennis Saterlee, author of the Red Allen biography, Teardrops In My Eyes, shares this about the extent of Hoos’s recordings ….. 

“Don had a fabulous collection and was willing to share all of it on cassette tape, which meant that reel to reel guys had to step up to the ‘new’ technology. When I first received his tape list it was about 20 pages of priceless live shows, radio shows and impossible to find recordings. I would say in the 1970s, and even early 1980s, Don was the go to collector in the United States. I’m sure the Flatt and Scruggs and the Osborne Brothers with Red Allen material came from his collection.”

Although he didn’t use for commercial purposes any of the materials that Hoos sent to him, Gary B Reid, who produced the Stanley Series of live Stanley Brothers’ shows, acknowledges that they did inform him of their existence and set him on the way to finding the original tapes …  

“The first person to ever make any copies of live recordings available to me was a guy by the name of Don Hoos — he operated a drug store in (I think) Evanston, Illinois. This started around 1975 or so. It was maybe a few years later that we became acquainted with Bill Offenbacher.”

R.I.P. Don Hoos 

Bluegrass Today gratefully acknowledges the help of Chipper Covington in the composition of this obituary. 

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.