Doyle Lawson, 43 year veteran leader of Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, has announced that he will be stepping away from that role at the end of 2022.
With nearly six decades as a professional bluegrass entertainer under his belt, Lawson is clearly the reigning senior statesman in our music. Still active as a touring artist, he plays regularly at festivals, concerts, and churches all over the United States, as well as occasional visits overseas. Few in bluegrass are as busy as he.
But Doyle says that this decision has been weighing on his mind for a while now.
“I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. 2022 will be coming up on 60 years in music, and I feel like this is the time to step away from my position as a bandleader. I think it’s been 43 years for me in this role. In a few days I’ll be 77 years old, and while my voice has held up well and my hands feel good, I want to leave while I can still feel proud of my performance on stage.”
Someone with the career plaudits and achievements of Doyle Lawson has every reason to go out on top. He started on banjo with Jimmy Martin in 1963, who he had known back home in Sneedville, TN for several years. Three years later he joined up with J.D. Crowe & The Kentucky Mountain Boys on guitar, but soon switched to mandolin. Doyle was back to Jimmy’s band in ’69 for a short time, but returned to Crowe until ’71. That was when he joined Charlie Waller and The Country Gentlemen, the beginning of an epic eight year stint that saw him participate in several landmark recordings, none more so than 1972’s The Award Winning Country Gentlemen. In 1979, history was made with the debut of Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver.
Even in retirement, don’t expect Lawson to disappear from the bluegrass scene.
“I plan on still doing some producing and other things in music, but Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver will not be after 2022.
I’ve been talking to the guys in the band, and it looks like they want to continue on as a band. They plan to stay with me through the end of next year.
We will have a new CD with this current group, and I want to do one more Gospel CD with Quicksilver. I think it would be fitting for me to go out with that as a band leader.”
This next Quicksilver recording will be his 42nd with the group, slated for release in June on Billy Blue Records. That is an astonishing number, especially with the bandmates he has had over that time. Some of today’s most celebrated bluegrass artists learned their trade at Doyle’s side, among them Russell Moore, Steve Gulley, Lou Reid, Jamie Dailey, Jimmy Haley, Barry Abernathy, and Shawn Lane, not to mention super pickers like Scott Vestal, Jim Van Cleve, Hunter Berry, Terry Baucom, and Jim Mills.
But time comes for all of us, he says…
“Father time has a way of taking a step from you. It’s always been my desire to walk away while I felt good, while I could still play. I’d rather step away while I can still feel proud of what I can do on stage. I feel like my voice has held up well, and I can still play.
My health is good… I’m not quitting for any other reason that what I am saying here. I like producing people in the studio, and I may pop up on other projects if people want me.”
Remembering when he was a young grasser looking for steady work, Doyle feels like it’s time for him to let others run with the ball.
“I just want to pass the torch. You’ve got young bands coming on, and if I move away from the touring part of music that will open up things for others.
On the other side of the coin, they may be glad I’m out of the way! (chuckle)“
That doesn’t seem likely, with the legion of admiring fans he has developed over 43 years with Quicksilver. It seems fair to say that there will never be another like Doyle Lawson.
But he’s not done yet! He and the band have a full schedule booked for the rest of this year, and are building one for 2022 as well.
They will be at The Newberry Opera House in Newberry, SC this coming Friday, with shows getting really busy in May, with the 41st annual Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver Bluegrass Festival in Denton, NC over Mother’s Day weekend.
We won’t say farewell, as there is more to come, but we do salute a true bluegrass legend in Doyle Lawson. It won’t be the same without you!