More bluegrass health concerns

We heard from Larry Stephenson last night with news of another bluegrass legend experiencing a health problem over the weekend. This time, it isn’t a pioneering performer, but a master of making things work behind-the-scenes.

Larry tells us that Lance Leroy, who managed the career of Lester Flatt after he split with Earl Scruggs, suffered a fall at his home on Saturday afternoon (6/19). He struck his head on the concrete floor, and was taken by by ambulance to the Skyline Medical Center in Nashville where he underwent surgery on Sunday morning to release pressure in his skull.

According to Lance’s son, there was still some bleeding in his brain as of Monday evening. Larry expresses a hope that is surely shared by everyone who has worked for long in the bluegrass world.

“Lance is a dear friend to me and has been since the 70’s when I first met him. I sure hope he pulls through this and I hope others will send prayers his way. He just turned 80 and he needs all he can get. He was looking forward to being honored at the Music City Roots show at the Loveless Cafe in Nashville, where he is due be honored for the 25th Anniversary of IBMA, Wednesday night.”

Leroy also worked for many years as the agent for Jimmy Martin, and his company, Lancer Agency, is generally regarded as the first, full-time professional booking agency devoted to bluegrass music. Other clients included The Johnson Mountain Boys, The Bluegrass Cardinals and Del McCoury. He was also instrumental in the initial organizing of the International Bluegrass Music Association.

Stephenson had a health issue of his own over the weekend, one that led him to cancel a show for the first time in his long career. After spending the first part of the day Friday performing at the Turkey Track festival in Arkansas, Larry found himself without any voice at all about 45 minutes later while working the band table.

Of course, the show must go on…   so Larry tasked bandmate Kevin Richardson with taking the lead vocals, and asked John Bowman who was there with the Boxcars to help them out during their last set. Roger Sparks of Louisiana Grass also sat in on fiddle. But after getting through that show at Turkey Track, the band canceled their date for Saturday at the Stringbean Festival in Kentucky.

“I hate I had to cancel, that is very unlike me, but there was nothing I could do to get my voice back, and it just seemed to keep getting worse.”

Not to worry, though. Larry is on the mend, and expects to be on stage for their show tomorrow (6/23) at the Music in the Mountains festival in West Virginia.

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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.