We learn from the California Bluegrass Association that Vern Williams, a truly marvelous bluegrass singer and mandolinist, passed away on Tuesday afternoon. We will update with more details as we find them.
For folks who are not aware of this very talented performer and his legacy, we found a few biographies that are worth your attention. The first comes from Billboard Magazine’s web site, and focuses on Williams specifically. The other is from California Bluegrass Association’s site, and is a bio of the group that brought him to prominence, Vern & Ray, with Ray Parks.
Vern & Ray were rare gems, and their contributions to our music were tremendous, especially to bluegrassers on the west coast, where east coast and southern bands toured infrequently in the 1960s and ’70s.
We found some audio on CMT.com from a live recording of Vern & Ray made in 1968, which is still commercially available, and commend it to our readers who are not familiar with their music. I have always felt that their Sounds Of The Ozarks album was one of the finest bluegrass recordings of its time, which seems now to be out of print.
Rest in Peace, Vern Williams.