Larry McPeake, bass player and singer with The McPeak Brothers, died this morning in Bristol, VA. He had spent the past week hospitalized and his health had been rapidly declining.
He was part of the historic trio with his brothers Dewey and Mike, hailing from Wytheville, VA. Their tight family harmony, and Larry’s clever songwriting, brought them popularity in the 1970s, though they were well known in southwest Virginia before and after their brief time on RCA.
They had continued performing together sporadically until Larry’s health prevented them doing so. In recent years Larry had experienced both liver and kidney problems, and was on oxygen 24/7.
His friend Tim White, host of Song Of The Mountains on PBS, says he had a chance to speak with Larry by phone yesterday, and says he found him tired, and ready to let go.
“It is hard to part with family and friends, but seeing Larry suffer over the past three years prepared all of us close to him for this day. We were blessed to have had Larry for an extra 14 years after his successful liver transplant. I am saddened for his family, and his bluegrass family as well.
But I am happy for Larry. His suffering is over. The world is getting mighty empty.”
I recall seeing The McPeak Brothers for the first time in the mid-’80s, when Rickie and Ronnie Simpkins were in their band. Theirs was a fun, homey show filled with great singing and strong picking. Dewey played banjo, Mike guitar, with Larry on bass.
Only a few of their many albums remain available, with two offered as digital downloads. If you are not familiar with the music of The McPeaks, you owe it to yourself to have a good listen.
R.I.P., Larry McPeak.