E.C. Miller passes

Dan Boner, Director of the ETSU Bluegrass, Old Time and Country Music program, has shared this news about a beloved faculty member who has gone on.

E.C. Miller passed away around midnight. Among the most respected banjo players in East Tennessee, E.C. Miller shared music with students for more than sixty years.

Among those he has taught successfully is Rounder recording artist and ETSU alumna, Beth Stevens. His recordings include albums with the Toe River Boys—who also appear with him in the film, North Carolina Traditions—and one with bluegrass pioneer Benny Sims and ETSU alumnus Tim Stafford.

An appearance on CBS-TV’s On the Road With Charles Kuralt brought E.C.’s music to a nationwide audience. He authored an autobiographical book which was released about five years ago.

The sound of his powerful banjo playing will be missed echoing through the halls at ETSU. Rest in peace, E.C.

Tim Stafford also passed along a few words of remembrance.

“E.C. Miller was one of the most impressive teachers of bluegrass banjo who ever lived. It’s impossible to find someone in the East Tennessee/Southwest Virginia/western North Carolina bluegrass community who doesn’t know about him or know someone who learned it the way Earl picked it from the gentle guy from Carter County, TN, who heard Earl back when the style was in its infancy.

I had heard of him as a teacher from one of his students, Tim Harkleroad, the guy who was so good—no doubt in part because of E.C.—that I had to quit banjo and take up guitar.

I made some of my first recordings with E.C. and Benny Sims, when I was 20, and I was so impressed with both men and their musicianship. I learned a lot from both, but not near as much as the generations of students who learned from E.C. Everyone always said, ‘He’s the best.’

And he was. Just a prince of a guy… We’ve lost one of the good ones.”

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.