Margaret Holt passes

Margaret HoltIf there’s such a thing as a Matriarch of Bluegrass, Margaret Holt would certainly be in the running. We have learned from her family that she died on Sunday, September 8, at the age of 96.

Her sons Aubrey, Jerry, and Tom Holt formed one of the most influential bluegrass bands of the 1970s, The Boys From Indiana. Her grandsons are also making their presence known in bluegrass. Tony Holt has done well with his Wildwood Valley Boys, Tom Feller with Feller & Hill, Jeff and Greg Holt with Born Again, and Lonnie Feller with Crimson Hill.

Known to family and friends as Maggie, her bluegrass roots go back further than her progeny. Her brother Harley Gabbard was a successful resonator guitarist and recording artist, and performed with Aubrey Holt before The Boys From Indiana were formed in the 1960s. Maggie’s and Harley’s mother, Ida, also played the banjo.

Holt was a bluegrass and old time musician herself, playing both clawhammer banjo and Carter style guitar since she was a girl. She and her husband, Tony, played music when the children were young, inspiring their love of banjo, fiddle and guitar music.

Tom Feller shared this brief remembrance of his grandmother.

Maggie Holt“She was a wonderful lady who made a lasting impression on everyone she ever met. She had a deep-rooted love for old-time and bluegrass music, which had been passed down to her through generations. In turn, she passed the music down to her kids and grandkids.

I think she leaves behind a great musical legacy. She will be dearly missed by anyone who was fortunate enough to know her.”

Feller also recalls both his grandparents teaching him how to get started playing music as a boy, as they did for his many cousins.

He also shared a few family photos.


At the time of her passing, Maggie could boast of 17 grandchildren, 30 great grandchildren, and 10 great-great grandchildren. Sounds like a life well lived.

Funeral services will be held on Friday (9/13) at Hope Baptist Church in Dillsboro, IN at 11:00 a.m. Visitation is scheduled for Thursday (9/12) from 5:00-8:00 p.m. at the church. Mrs. Holt will be buried in the New Craven Cemetery in nearby Milan, IN.

R.I.P Maggie Holt. The bluegrass world is in your debt.

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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.