Randall Collins passes

Lifelong fiddler Randall Collins died on June 27, surrounded by those he loved. He was 84 years of age.

Randall was said to have picked up the fiddle when he was seven years old, living in his hometown of Blairsville, GA. He would sneak it out to the cornfields to play when he was supposed to have been working. Once he was old enough, he set out as a fiddler who toured and recorded with the likes of Bill Monroe, Jimmy Martin, and Mac Wiseman.

Perhaps his most lasting contribution was as a founding member of the Pinnacle Boys, with whom he recorded eight albums. The band was quite popular during the 1970s, based in Knoxville, recording for the Atteiram, Rounder, and CMH labels. The band also included Bud Brewster (uncle of Paul Brewster) on guitar, Larry Mathis on banjo, Jerry Moore on fiddle, and Ray Rosie on bass.

In 1976 Collins released a solo project, Georgia Fiddler, featuring many of his Pinnacle Boys bandmates. Brewster played guitar, Mathis banjo, Moore was on second fiddle, Jim Smith on mandolin, and Rob Mashburn on bass. It is still available for sale in digital form online.

He had also recorded an album paired up with Curtis Blackwell, billed as Randall Collins and Curtis Blackwell and the Dixie Bluegrass Boys, entitled Shadows of Time in 1970 on Coral Records. That record included Blackwell on guitar and vocal, Collins on fiddle, Al Osteen on banjo, Larry Jefferson on mandolin, and Sam Cobb on bass.

Collins also fiddled for other groups like The Stoney Mountain Boys, Carolina Buddies, The Morris Brothers, and with his own band.

Though he continued to perform and record on both fiddle and mandolin to the end, Randall’s greatest joy was in his six children and 15 grandchildren, who will keep his memory alive.

He was remembered at a graveside service on Sunday, June 30 at Old Liberty Baptist Church in Blairsville. Music was provided by The Collins Family.

R.I.P., Randall Collins.

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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.