Wayne Yates passes

Wayne and Bill YatesWayne Yates, brother to former Country Gentleman Bill Yates, passed away last night (12/11) at the age of 75. He is picture on the left in this album cover from a project he and Bill made together.

Wayne worked with a number of bluegrass bands over the course of his life, including stints with both Red Allen and Del McCoury.

Dennis Saterlee, whose book on Red Allen, Teardrops In My Eyes, was published earlier this year, put together a brief history of Wayne’s contributions to bluegrass music.

Wayne Yates, originally from Manassas, Virginia, and his brother Bill, formed The Clinch Mountain Ramblers bluegrass band in the Washington D. C. area in the late 1950s. The Ramblers, which included, legendary banjo player Porter Church, recorded a few sides for the Nashville based Kash label.  To earn some extra money they also teamed up with Patsy Stoneman who had left the famous Stoneman family band to strike out on her own.  It was during that  period that a recently relocated Red Allen, fresh from Dayton, Ohio, started playing as a regular member of The Clinch Mountain Ramblers

Red was fresh from his breakup with the Osborne Brothers who had placed more than a couple of hits on the country music charts. It wasn’t long before Red arrived that he took over the band. They first started playing as Red Allen and the Yates Brothers but soon changed the name to the Kentuckians, Red’s original band name.

As the mandolin playing member of the Kentuckians, Wayne helped record two landmark albums.  One for the Washington based Melodeon label and a second for the fledgling County record label. With the addition of the Yates Brothers, Red had the ability to sing Osborne style harmonies once again. These recording were well received by the fans who remembered Red with the Osbornes as well as by a new audience which was coming to bluegrass music from the folk music explosion that was taking place in the nation.  These albums are currently available on the Rebel, Lonesome and Blue CD released a few years back.

After two albums Wayne left the band to concentrate on his day job.  His brother Bill would go on to fame with Jimmy Martin and the Country Gentlemen, among others, but Wayne preferred to stay at home.  In the 1970s and early 1980s   Wayne could be found sitting in with local bands at any of a number of popular bluegrass music venues in the Washington D. C. area. Although not wanting to give up a steady income from his day job, he remained a part of the local bluegrass scene for years.

Just a few years back Bill and Wayne reunited to record a new CD which should still be available.

Wayne will be remembered as a well respected pioneer in the Washington D. C. music scene.

Dennis’ book on Red Allen can be obtained through bookstores and retailers who specialize in bluegrass music, including County Sales, Bluegrass Publications and IBMM.

UPDATE 4:56 p.m. Eddie Adcock shared a few wordsin Wayne’s memory…

“In the Washington DC era of my youth I spent quite a bit of time ‘running around’ with Wayne Yates and his brother Bill, and I’ll always remember that experience fondly…even though we sure got into a lot of scrapes together!  One thing I remember most about Wayne, though, is that he would rather sing than eat.  He was a fine singer, and he could sing all the parts – lead, baritone and tenor.  Wayne was a mainstay on the Washington DC bluegrass scene for a long time, when for good reason DC was known as ‘The Bluegrass Capitol’.

Wayne Yates was a big part of it all.”

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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.