Vic Jordan passes

Vic JordanOne of the finest banjo players of the 1960s and ’70s has left us. Vic Jordan passed away last night in Nashville. He was 77 years of age and had been seriously ill for some time.

Vic’s prominence in bluegrass exploded when he joined Bill Monroe in 1967, though he had worked previously with both Jimmy Martin and Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper. He was one of three featured banjoists on Martin’s classic Big And Country Instrumentals in 1967, splitting time with fellow five string legends Bill Emerson and J.D. Crowe.

With Monroe, he recorded banjo breaks for iconic numbers like Gold Rush and Kentucky Mandolin, and was also featured on a number of Kenny Baker fiddle records. Jordan split banjo time with Bob Black on Baker’s masterpiece, Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe in 1976, and also appeared on Portrait Of A Bluegrass Fiddler in 1969.

After leaving Monroe, Vic worked with Lester Flatt from 1969 through ’71, going then to Jim & Jesse until 1974. He next found work primarily as a session musician on both guitar and banjo until he hooked up with Jim & Jesse again in the late ’80s.

Vic Jordan with Jim & Jesse - photo by Doc HamiltonMost influential were his two solo projects, Pickaway in 1972, and Banjo Nashville in 1978. By this point he had become quite adept at what was mistakenly called “chromatic banjo” at the time, though his style was far more melodic and scalar. Students of the instrument were tying their fingers in knots to replicate tunes like his lovely Jordan’s Hornpipe which taught them to play ascending and descending patterns in both G and C.

The Pickaway album is long out of print, but someone has posted it in its entirety on YouTube.



Young banjo pickers could profit greatly from studying his music.

Funeral services will be held on Wednesday August 31, at St. Luke Catholic Church in Smyrna, TN at 2:00 p.m. Visitation will follow the service.

R.I.P., Vic Jordan.

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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.