Snuffy Smith passes

Noted North Carolina banjo picker and celebrated luthier Snuffy Smith has passed away.

Professional banjo players, serious amateurs and banjo aficionados of every stripe had long trusted Snuffy for all sorts of set up and repair. Many more who never met him in person have used the popular Snuffy Smith bridge on their five string.

Smith had recovered from some serious health concerns of late, following a serious motorcycle accident and a heart attack in the past few years, but friends have insisted that he was doing well and looking great as recently as last month.

At this point, no more details have been made public. We will update through the day as we learn more.

Very sad news. Rest in Peace, banjo brother.

UPDATE 9:00 p.m. – We heard this evening from Pam and Tony Rice, who count Snuffy as the dearest of friends. They have both been devastated by his death, as of course is Snuffy’s wife Jackie. Pam said that Tony has had to take to his bed, as he had been “weak in the knees” all day today.

She received a call around dinnertime  on Friday afternoon from a deputy with the Stokes County Sheriff’s Department, saying that he was calling from Snuffy’s house.

“My heart sank, I just said, ‘How bad is it this time?’ He said, ‘Pam I’m sorry… Snuffy is gone. Jackie found him. I’m here with her now. Jackie is unable to talk she just asked me to call Tony. I rang the other number but a recording came on, so I called your cell number.’

I asked him if he would mind stepping away from Jackie and let me know what happened. He confirmed my first impression, that it apparently was his heart again.

He said Snuffy had eaten what was breakfast to him, meaning like us he is a night owl, and morning for us is after 12 noon. At some point he told Jackie he was having another day when he didnt feel so hot.

He was doing something, trying to mess around in his shop for a while. The deputy said after a while Snuffy left the shop and went and sat in front of his computer. I dont know the time intervals in any of this. I just know that at some point Jackie came down stairs, to find him in his big favoriate chair, sitting facing his computer. His head was back, and it was too late.

Too late meaning, he had walked on. The deputy did not say this, but I just know, his cat would have been in his lap. I know how it was everytime I was ever in Snuffys presence in that room. Snuffy embraced every visit from his favorite swivel rocking chair, where he could spin to face his computer. His cat was always in his lap. He and his cat were almost like siamese twins. It was possible to lure his cat away for short intervals, but his cat always went right back. If he got up and moved to show you something, his cat took every step on his heels like his living shadow.

Snuffy always returned to his chair. The very instant he sat, his cat appeared in in his lap. They were twin souls.”

Funeral services are scheduled for Monday at 6:00 p.m. at Slate’s Funeral Home, with visitation to follow. Snuffy will be buried back in Springdale, AR at a later date, which Pam described as his “homeland.”

Slate’s Funeral Home
132 E Dalton Road
King, NC 27021
(336) 983-5176

Share this:

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.