Shelby Jewell passes

Shelby Jewell, who founded The Bluegrass Kinsmen back in the early 1970s, passed away on June 17 from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. He was 80 years of age.

The Kinsmen were launched in 1971 by Shelby and his brother, Ebby, who has kept the band going since Shelby retired in 2012. They maintained a traditional bluegrass sound throughout their 46 year career, and helped spawn the careers of current performers like Wayne Taylor of Blue Highway, Robert Hale of Wildfire, Darrell Webb, and Jeff Brown, both of whom now front their own groups.

They recorded many albums over the years, and a 40th Anniversary compilation project is still available online.

Shelby was an early proponent of the pompadour hair style that Del McCoury also sports.

This video not only captures the band in its prime on Heading For The Mountains, it is accompanied by a photo montage of the Kinsmen through their career. See if you don’t recognize some familiar faces along the way.

Shelby is singing lead with James Cole on tenor and upright bass, Billy Baker on fiddle, and Ebby on banjo.

Funeral services were held earlier today at Singleton Funeral Service Chapel in Cedar Bluff, Virginia.

R.I.P., Shelby Jewell.

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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.