Jim Rollins passes

Jim Rollins, life long banjo picker and friend to everyone in bluegrass, died last night in Greenville County, SC after his car was struck by another vehicle. He was 54 years of age.

According to the Greenville County Coroner, Jim was heading south on Interstate 385 when his car was struck by another driving at a high rate of speed traveling in the same direction. When Jim’s car was hit in the rear, it spun off the road and he was thrown from the vehicle. His death was ruled as caused by blunt force trauma to the head.

In addition to being a fine banjo player, who worked with Jimmy Martin & The Sunny Mountain Boys in his youth, Jim was an avid student of prewar Gibson flathead banjos. He felt himself honored to own one himself, an RB-75 built between 1937 and 1940, known colloquially as the Reverend Odell banjo. Jim was always quick to share its history with anyone who asked.

Rollins worked as an engineer for General Electric and lived in Simpsonville, SC. In recent years, he had performed as a member of the West End String Band, based in North Carolina.

Known to some in the banjo world as Jimmy, he was a fixture at banjo contests and conventions, like the annual Banjothon in Knoxville, the Galax fiddlers convention, and RenoFest. Soft spoken and friendly, a chance encounter could lead to a quick friendship, and most every professional banjo player or prewar enthusiast will recall meeting and talking with him at some point.

Another Simpsonville man has been charged with felony DUI in Rollins’ death.

We have no information at this time about funeral arrangements.

R.I.P., Jim Rollins.

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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.

  • markbyrum

    I am sorry to learn of this. I met Jim at the Roanoke Bluegrass Weekend camp “several” years ago. He was a consulate gentleman and a real banjo fan! His playing was excellent! He certainly will be missed.

  • Jeff Barnett

    I wanted to add as well, that Jimmy also played with and was a dear friend to the late great Larry Jefferson, who played with Charlie Moore for years, in the Northern Border Band from upstate SC. Jimmy also learned the banjo from friend and mentor, the late great Al Osteen Jimmy was a dandy, RIP

  • Dean Hoffmeyer

    Nice fellow, good friend. Thank you for the post.

  • Dan Loftin

    Jim was a great picker and a great friend; one of the nicest people I have ever known! I am not a nice person and frankly I would like to introduce the drunken SOB that caused this unnecessary tragedy to the short end of a long rope!