The bluegrass and country music world has lost a true titan. Tut Taylor, known far and wide as the “flatpicking dobro man,” has died. He was 91 years old.
Family friends tell us that Tut was hospitalized last week, and the family had reported his passing earlier this afternoon.
Tut has long told the story about he came to play the resonator guitar with a flatpack, simply because no one ever told him he shouldn’t. He developed a unique style using a single pick, one that served him well on epic recordings with John Hartford, Vassar Clements, and Norman Blake.
Taylor worked much of his life as either a sign painter or in music. He maintained a shop in Milledgeville, GA for many years until he moved to Nashville in 1969 to do custom carving work for Gibson, a trade that never materialized.
Among Taylor’s many accomplishments was the founding of GTR Guitars in Nashville with noted vintage expert George Gruhn, and builder/luthier Randy Wood. Tut left within two years, and the shop that opened near the Ryman Auditorium eventually became Gruhn’s Guitar Shop, a major retailer of both new and older stringed instruments.
Before long, Tut had purchased the assets of the Grammar Guitar Company in bankruptcy, which started the train that led to the Rich & Taylor Banjo Company, and eventually Crafters of Tennessee, run by his son Mark. Neither company remains operational.
In more recent years, Tut collaborated with the Beard Guitar Company to create their The Tut Taylor Model 27 guitar, a vintage reproduction of the rare Dobro model which Taylor favored. These remain in production.
Ultimately, Tut’s greatest legacy is in his music. Dobro Country, the first album under his own name was released in 1964, though he had previously worked on sessions for Porter Wagoner. A high point was working with Hartford in the Aereo-plain Band, and recording the iconic Aereo-Plain album with John in 1971.
He will be remembered as well for his good humor, and love of telling stories.
R.I.P., Tut Taylor.