George McCeney passes

George McCeney, one of the founders of Bluegrass Unlimited magazine, died on August 11 at his home in Timonium, MD. He was 79 years of age and had been ill for some time.

From the time he was a young man, George had been a devoted follower and supporter of bluegrass music. His wife, Natalie, who survives her husband, remembers that “the first time he heard Mac Wiseman sing, he was a goner for bluegrass.” He became a close friend of Doc Watson before the guitarist became a cultural sensation, and spent time in North Carolina putting a new roof and bathroom on Doc’s house while he was in college. 

George was also a player, singer, and songwriter, and performed mostly in part time groups throughout his life. While studying at Yale University, he played with a bluegrass group. His songs had been recorded by bands based in the capitol region, including Emerson and Wladron.

He served on the Board of Directors of the International Bluegrass Music Museum and was a longtime supporter of the IBMA’s Leadership Bluegrass program.

As his health had been failing for some time, friends in the DC area organized a sort of farewell reception in July, and George appeared lively and delighted to see everyone. About 100 people attended and many an old story was shared.

Over the years his interest in bluegrass gave George the opportunity to meet a number of celebrities, among them Jerry Garcia, Bob Dylan, and the Baltimore burlesque performer Blaze Starr who was also a banjo player.

Friends may enjoy reading this interview we did with George back in 2013.

The family has scheduled a funeral Mass for September 13. More details about arrangements will be shared in the coming weeks.

R.I.P., George McCeney.

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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.