Terry Baucom, one of the most iconic and important banjo players of the past five decades, has announced his intention of retiring from active touring. He will make one last appearance this weekend with his band, The Dukes of Drive, at the Camp Springs Labor Day Bluegrass festival in North Carolina.
Now 70 years of age, Terry is of the generation of banjo pickers who were drawn to the instrument after seeing and hearing Earl Scruggs on The Beverly Hillbillies television program as a child. Growing up in a musical family, he received all the encouragement he needed, and started on banjo at 10, and fiddle four years later. As a teen he played banjo in his father’s bluegrass group, The Rocky River Boys.
Despite a well-earned reputation as a top banjo player, his initial love was the fiddle, something he still enjoys today. His first professional gig outside his family was playing fiddle for Charlie Moore starting in 1970. In fact, the gig that brought him to the wider world of bluegrass’s attention, Boone Creek, had initially meant to have Bauc on fiddle. That band, with Ricky Skaggs, Wes Golding, Jerry Douglas, and Steve Bryant, was originally to have had Marc Pruett on banjo, and Terry on fiddle. When Marc backed out, needing to spend time with his business concerns, the switch was made.
Baucom went from two years and two albums in Boone Creek to the original version of Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, for six years from 1979. After leaving Doyle in 1985, he returned for a second stint on banjo in 2003. In between Terry was involved in another groundbreaking bluegrass startup, being a founding member of IIIrd Tyme Out with Russell Moore, Alan Bibey, Mike Hartgrove, and Ray Deaton, themselves an offshoot of Doyle’s band.
During a stellar career, Bauc was also part of Lou Reid & Carolina, Blue Ridge, which had initially been called Baucom, Bibey, Graham & Haley, and did fill in work while beginning to focus on banjo instruction. A book of his banjo transcriptions was published, followed by a pair of instructional videos.
Finally, in 2015, he launched a solo career with his own band, Terry Baucom’s Dukes of Drive, which found tremendous success on bluegrass radio.
Now, after a professional career spanning more than 50 years, Terry has elected to take it to the house, and give up the world of touring and recording. It’s not likely that anyone in our profession would deny that he has earned his rest.
Bravo, Terry Baucom!