As a young man, he served as a member of Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys in the early 1940s, just prior to the addition of Flatt & Scruggs to the band. When Lester and Earl split from Monroe in ’48, Jim played fiddle on their first recording session, which produced We’ll Meet Again Sweetheart and Cabin in Caroline.
In his instructional video on The Fiddlers of Flatt & Scruggs, Ron Stewart describes the playing on those two cuts as the two most classic bluegrass fiddle breaks of all time.
“I believe that Jimmy was a genius bluegrass fiddler, and way ahead of his time. He had a style all his own that I’ve never heard since, which just defines bluegrass fiddle for me, and the feel it should have.”
Jim had been suffering from kidney failure and Alzheimers, and took a fall on Tuesday after becoming quite ill on Monday. He was taken to the hospital and transferred to hospice care. He died around 1:00 a.m. this morning near his home in Hickory, NC.
His wife Naomi and their two daughters are meeting today with Bass Smith Funeral Home in Hickory, and an announcement about arrangements and memorials will be forthcoming.