Since the death of Tony Rice on Christmas day, the bluegrass and acoustic music world has reacted with a combination of shock and reverence. Rice had been a superstar in the music for so long, that even after his retirement several years ago, we had continued to collectively enjoy his contributions as though he had never left.
His passing was covered by a great many media outlets, including many of the mainstream sources in addition to most every publication focused on music. I even encountered one over the weekend on a web site typically dedicated to legal and political issues. All remembered Tony for his distinctive voice, his dramatic influence on the direction of contemporary bluegrass since the 1970s, for the way he revolutionized bluegrass guitar playing, and pioneered the use of the steel string flattop in jazz.
Most of his peers in the acoustic music world have shared their own personal reflections online, often focusing on Tony Rice the individual, and how his kind sprit and generosity had affected their music. Tony was notoriously uncomfortable in crowds, and often resisted spending time at shows talking with fans, giving some the false impression that he was unfriendly or unwilling to interact. Those who knew him best recognize the truth – that he was lavish with his time, for those who could accommodate his odd schedule.
Over the weekend, several of today’s top bluegrass guitarists gathered to discuss Tony Rice, in a livestream hosted by Bryan Sutton for ArtistWorks. Included was input from Josh Williams, Tim Stafford, Chris Eldridge, Molly Tuttle, Billy Strings, David Grier, Tommy Emmanuel, Michael Daves, Jake Workman, Andy Falco, Dan Crary, Norman Blake, Dan Tyminski, Ron Block, Jon Stickley, Dave Bruzza, Jim Hurst, Kenny Smith, Cody Kilby, Trey Hensley, and more.
Talk about a who’s who!
The session ran close to three hours, and is preserved for those who either didn’t see it or would like to watch again on YouTube. Even if you don’t have time for the whole thing in one chunk, be sure to bookmark this page and contemplate this tribute if you have even a passing interest in bluegrass guitar, and the one and only Tony Rice.
Thanks Bryan, ArtistWorks, and all involved in this timely discussion.