Red Spurlock diagnosed with cancer

Veteran Fairborn, Ohio, bluegrass musician Red Spurlock has been diagnosed with oral cancer.

A Kentucky-born banjo player, Spurlock started out in late in 1951 playing with Red Allen in Dayton area bars, including the Miami Bar and the Friendly Inn, later known as Little Mickey’s. A teenage Frank Wakefield was in the band also. They didn’t have a band name back then, and Spurlock thinks that they were the first band to start playing bluegrass music in the area. The band broke up in 1953 when Allen took up another job.

However, Spurlock and the rest of the band, now known collectively as the Rainbow Ramblers, went out on the road and got an early morning radio show in Pritchard, AL. The adventure didn’t last long though; Spurlock returned to Dayton and started Fairborn Auto Glass, a company that he owned until 1992.

When Red Allen left the Osborne Brothers in 1958 the two Reds teamed up with Frank Wakefield to form the Red Heads (naturally!). Two years later they cut a good version of the Louvin Brothers’ Love and Wealth and You’ll Always Be Untrue on Dayton’s BMC Records.

Spurlock has been in several bands since, chiefly leading the Rainbow Ramblers. They released a CD Ode to Bluegrass in 2000. He played and recorded with the Powell Brothers. Currently he plays with Evan Lanier and the Bluegrass Express.

Spurlock has received radiation and surgical treatment, during which 42 lymph nodes were removed, 18 of which were cancerous, causing the removal of a portion of his tongue.

Last Sunday (September 16) Spurlock’s family and friends got together to stage a benefit to assist with medical expenses. A sum of over $6,000 was raised.

We are enquiring about a bank account to enable donations to be made and will pass along this information as soon as it is available.

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.