The bluegrass world has lost another of its beloved second generation pioneers today with the passing of Jake Landers. He was 79 years of age and had been ill for some time.
Jake was a fixture in the bluegrass scene in northern Alabama, and was prominent nationally as a founding member of The Dixie Gentlemen during the 1970s. The group was formed along with banjo player Rual Yarborough, and mandolinist Herschel Sizemore with Landers on guitar. Five albums of their music were recorded, with many songs being Jake’s originals.
And it was these songs that perhaps best demonstrate his legacy in bluegrass. His Walk Softly On My Heart was a hit for both Bill Monroe, and later The Kentucky Headhunters, as was Down By The Waterfall for The Country Gentlemen. Another popular number of his was This Is The Girl I Love, recorded many times over the years by different acts.
Until health problems intervened, Jake continued to perform regionally in bluegrass bands, including with his daughters as the Jake Landers Family Band.
Those that knew Jake remember him for his kindness and willingness to help younger musicians coming into the music. Carl Jackson and Claire Lynch are two who grew up in Alabama who recall Jake as an influence and a mentor. But everyone who came into contact with him got a friendly smile and sincere welcome.
For several years, folks in Sheffield, AL have hosted a show in his honor, billed as the Jake Landers Bluegrass Concert.
No information has yet been released about funeral arrangements.
R.I.P., Jake Landers.