This lovely remembrance of Green Hayes, a stalwart of the Cincinnati bluegrass scene for more than 60 years, was shared by his family. Green is the father of Rick Hayes, former mandolinist with The Gibson Brothers, builder of fine mandolins and guitars, co-owner (with Clay Hess) of the Hayes Productions studio, and current mandolinist with Nightflyer.
It is with great sadness that we share the news that following a brief illness, Rick Hayes’ father, Green Hayes, has passed at the age of 94. Green was a well loved and admired figure in the Cincinnati bluegrass community. Many national artists had the good fortune to meet him when playing the Hayes Brothers Concert Series in their Covington, KY theater in the early 2000’s. Green was always there to meet folks at the door with a big smile and hug.
Like many musicians, Green started young, influenced by his father who sang. His sister, Nanny, and he played Renfro Valley on a few occasions, and played around McKee, Kentucky, where he was from. He never stopped playing bluegrass and passed his love of music down to his sons Rick and Ron. Rick recalls learning Wildwood Flower at an early age of about 7 or 8. Although bluegrass was Green’s first love, he was always open to listening to other styles of music and even learned the Beatles Norwegian Wood upon Rick’s request so he could show him how to play it.
Green fought in three major battles in World War II. He was honorably discharged after receiving injuries from a conflict where he and his division were held down in foxholes for almost 30 days in freezing weather. He nearly lost his feet in the process and spent over a year and a half in the hospital regaining his strength and ability to walk again. His signature cowboy boots – worn even when mowing the grass – helped relieve the pain received from the injuries. He was often bothered by the duties required of him as a combat soldier and wouldn’t speak of it for many years, but he was very proud that he served and helped to protect our country.
After the war, he returned home to marry Geneva Lainhart and raise a family in Cincinnati. Their anniversary this past January marked 70 years of marriage. Rick and Ron provided them with 7 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren. The only thing he loved more than bluegrass, was spending time with his family.
After straying a bit in the ’80s and early ’90s, Rick credits his father for bringing him back to the bluegrass fold by giving him a copy of IIIrd Tyme Out’s album Putting New Roots Down. From there on, Rick and Green went to numerous bluegrass festivals and attended many jam sessions. Green recorded two albums at Rick’s recording studio and even filmed a video for Rock of Ages (aka Jacob’s Ladder) that can be viewed on YouTube.
Rick’s brother, Ron, started up the Covington theater in the early 2000s hosting national bluegrass acts, as well as a weekly bluegrass jam. The bluegrass jam that started in Covington, was later moved and renamed the “Green Hayes Tuesday Night Bluegrass Farm Jam” in his honor. As Green’s voice began to weaken just a bit, a microphone and amp were brought in to help his authentic Kentucky voice be heard. He was always proud of the fact that he was the only one with a microphone. Green even performed publicly a few times with the makeshift “Tuesday Night Bluegrass Jammers,” as recently as last year.
Green was revered by many. You only had to meet him once to become his friend and get a big hug. Not every bluegrass star graces the stage of the Opry, some stars shine just as bright in our hometown communities and in our hearts. If only the world were full of people like Green Hayes, we would be better off.
R.I.P., Green Hayes.