Larry Jefferson remembered

Larry Jefferson on mandolinLarry E. Jefferson, aged 73, passed away on Saturday, August 27, 2016, at the Rainey Hospice House, Anderson, South Carolina.

He was born in Anderson on November 27, 1942.

Jefferson played mandolin in several bluegrass bands including Randall Collins, Curtis Blackwell & Dixie Bluegrass Boys, the Charlie Moore & the Dixie Partners, and Northern Border band, whom he joined in 1981.

He played on the Curtis Blackwell, Randall Collins & Dixie Bluegrass Boys’ Shadows of Time LP that County Records (County 728) released in 1970, as well as Gospel Time with Charlie Moore (Vetco LP-3013), Fiddler (Old Homestead OHS-90052), Tennessee Mountain Fiddle (OHS-90067), Country Music Memories, Vol. 1 (OHS-90134), Country Music Memories, Vol. 2 (OHS-90135) and Wheeling (OHS-90075).

Larry Jefferson’s soaring tenor vocal and ringing mandolin is also featured on Bluegrass Legends Together (Wango LP-112), a record that paired the talents of Don Reno as well as Charlie Moore.

Codie Sloan, a 19-year-old banjo player from the Piedmont region, is grateful for the mentoring that he received from Jefferson.

Codie Sloan“Larry was a true pioneer of bluegrass music and was a pivotal part of its development and growth especially in upstate South Carolina. My second great uncle, Ansel Guthrie, played with Charlie Moore prior to Larry becoming a Dixie Partner.

Larry was loved by everyone and he had a love for others. He played right up until the last and was just as passionate about the music at 73 as he was back in the 1960s. He especially supported any young person interested in bluegrass and I know he was pleased to know the music is going to be carried on, in the hands of a lot of good people.”

Travers Chandler praises Jefferson for his contribution to the bluegrass genre, helping to elevate the status of bluegrass music in South Carolina.

Travers Chandler“I got to know Larry a bit when I started researching Charlie Moore; early 2000s. We had many lengthy phone conversations about Charlie and mostly about how Jimmy Martin was just the greatest

Larry is an important figure in bluegrass. He’s one of the guys that gave South Carolina the chance to say ‘hey we’ve got our own bluegrass pedigree too.’

He was a great entertainer and personified cool. He understood the old school ways. He abhorred electronic tuners and admonished anyone who used them.

He became a fixture of the early festival scene as a member of Collins and Blackwell and the Dixie Bluegrass Boys. Their County release in 1970, Shadows of Time, is an important one and great listening for those who love straight traditional bluegrass. Larry’s tenor cuts and soars through that whole release.

Larry was a naturally gifted tenor singer and so was a perfect fit for Charlie Moore’s rich baritone voice. And because they were indigenous to the same area around Greenville, South Carolina, they’re phrasing was always on the mark. For whatever reason, vocalists had some difficulty blending with Charlie, but Larry was his alter ego. He was there for all of the important sides; Wheeling, Leaving Detroit, The Letter and the entire Don Reno and Charlie Moore recording on Wango.

Larry was a drywall expert by trade and I enjoyed the tales of his work here as much as anything. He was just a great story teller and a statesman for our music. My favorite story is the roadside memorial service they had for Charlie’s guitar strings. Butch Robins was there I believe. Charlie didn’t seem to see the importance of fresh strings so when one day Charlie changed all six it was decided they needed a proper burial ..roadside; everyone toasted and celebrated the death of these awful strings. It was a funny tale that only Larry could recount.

Later on in life he still played the very same mandolin he had for years. He encouraged young musicians and was a great supporter of mine. He was a loving family man as well, proud of his family. A true testament to mankind and one of the greatest people I ever knew.”

Jefferson was inducted into the Smithsonian Museum with the Charlie Moore Band.

Here is a video clip in which Jefferson sings the lead on the classic Blue Moon of Kentucky ….


[ Mike Eades & The Battlecreek Boys at Rholetterl’s Bluegrass Festival, April 2013 ]

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.