Lester Armistead passes

Lester-Armistead“Lonesome” Lester Armistead of the Tennessee Mafia Jug Band passed away Friday evening at his home in Goodlettsville TN, from complications of cancer. He was appreciative of being surrounded by his family and music friends who sat and sang to him to the end.

Years ago Lester and his brother Jack performed as a brother duet singing the music of their friends and neighbors, Roy Acuff’s Smokey Mountain Boys. Since Lester retired from a career in the publishing/printing world, he seriously pursued music with his son Mike Armistead and friend Leroy Troy. Together they formed The Tennessee Mafia Jug Band and appeared from the Grand Ol’ Opry to the Kennedy Center to Marty Stuart’s RFD TV show over the past decade or so. Over the past few years the band has been enjoying wide exposure on the bluegrass festival circuit as far afield as Gaspe Quebec and the Faroe Islands!!

Lester usually manned the jug, but he was also a good banjo picker, guitar man, dancer and comedian. He was most widely admired for his startling Force Five tenor voice, singing in the style of his heroes Bashful Brother Oswald and Ira Louvin.

Lester recorded several CDs with the Tennessee Mafia Jug Band, and one straight bluegrass CD with his son Mike. He loved to entertain and he loved to man the band mercantile — it was hard to resist his sales pitch!

Additionally Lester was known as THE most genial host in the Nashville area. Countless music fans got their introduction to Nashville’s country/bluegrass geography and denizens, as guests of Lester Armistead. He has probably driven visitors to Bill Monroe’s farm and Stringbean’s cabin thousands of times.

A Facebook memorial posting by one of Lester’s many dear friends has already used these words, most appropriately, from one of Lester’s “big numbers”:

A jewel here on earth, a jewel in heaven, he’ll brighten the kingdom around God’s great throne…

UPDATE 3:30 p.m. – Arrangements for Lester have been announced.

Sunday May 4, 2014
Visitation at Cole & Garrett in Goodlettsville
127 N Main St, Goodlettsville, TN 37072
2:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Monday May 5, 2014
Visitation at Lester’s home:
8333 Old Springfield Rd Goodlettsville, TN 37072
1:00 – 2:00 p.m.
Funeral will be held at the home beginning at 2:00 p.m.
(Burial will be at Forest Lawn in Goodlettsville. Pallbearers are: Freddie Armistead, Don Clark, Lee McHenry, Bob Loggins, George Edward Harper, Terry Wilkes.)

In lieu of flowers please make a donation in honor of Lester to the charity of your choice, the Cancer Foundation or Alive Hospice.

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About the Author

Dick Bowden

Dick Bowden is a VERY traditional bluegrass picker and fan from New England, who makes occasional contributions to Bluegrass Today representing the old timers' viewpoints.