Lance LeRoy passes

leroyLance LeRoy, a larger-than-life figure in bluegrass music has died. He passed away earlier today (December 17) at his son’s home outside Nashville. LeRoy was 84 years of age.

Though never a performer himself, he was a great lover of bluegrass music and bluegrass people, and worked in the business of our music all of his life. He served as booking agent and manager for Lester Flatt from 1969 when Lester dissolved his partnership with Earl Scruggs, until he died in 1979.

LeRoy also represented Jimmy Martin, The Johnson Mountain Boys, The Bluegrass Cardinals and Del McCoury with his Lancer Agency at different stages of their careers. He was among the founding members of the International Bluegrass Music Association, and was inducted into their Hall of Fame in 2000. Those who attended the first IBMA organizational meetings think of Lance as the instigator for getting things started.

A hobby photographer, many of his images found their way onto classic bluegrass album covers, and publicity photos for the artists with whom he worked.

His many friends in Nashville recall him as the ultimate bluegrass insider, helping and guiding countless artists and business people in ways that may never come to light. They say he wasn’t interested in the glory for himself, but always demanded that bluegrass entertainers be treated with the same respect that was accorded to the country music stars.

It’s not too much to suggest that Lance LeRoy designed the template for how business is conducted in bluegrass, with a level of professionalism that we now take for granted.

Though retired now for several years, he never stopped offering advice and counsel to his many friends in bluegrass.

Larry Stephenson, one of his closest friends, shared this tribute to Lance.

“Lance never had a band or sang a song…he played the fiddle in his early years in Georgia, where he’s from, but he was a force in Bluegrass Music, a Bluegrass Music Star! I go back to the mid ’70s with Lance and of course my time with The Bluegrass Cardinals. When I started my band in 1989, he helped me in many ways. Then I moved to Nashville in 1992 and our friendship blossomed. Spent many hours at his house, going through his records collection and learning about our music. Loved him like a Dad and I’ll forever miss him.”

No word yet on funeral arrangements, but that should be announced soon.

Surely all his family and friends will miss Lance personally, and bluegrass music is forever in his debt.

R.I.P., Lance LeRoy.

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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.