Willard Cox passes

Willard Cox, patriarch of The Cox Family who have performed bluegrass, acoustic country, and Gospel music together since 1972, has passed away. He was 82 years of age.

From their home in northwestern Louisiana, Willard and his four children – Evelyn, Lynn, Sidney, and Suzanne – toured all across their home state, as well as Texas, Mississippi, and Arkansas. Known for their close harmony and sincere arrangements of both hymns and original compositions, the band achieved tremendous recognition internationally when Alison Krauss produced their 1993 album, Everybody’s Reaching Out For Someone on Rounder Records.

The softer, low-key sound was a perfect fit for Alison’s fans, and when she did a record with them in ’94, I Know Who Holds Tomorrow, it won a Grammy award. The Family then began recording for Asylum Records, and their increased visibility led to their inclusion on the soundtrack for the Coen Brothers film, O Brother, Where Art Thou. Willard even got a small acting part on screen.

But shortly after they finished work on the soundtrack in 2000, Willard and his wife, Marie, were seriously injured in an automobile accident. Their car, pulled over on a shoulder, was struck by a logging truck and they were both badly hurt. Willard suffered a crushed spine that left him without the use of his legs, and the band went on hiatus. But they were back the following year performing limited dates with their father in a wheelchair.

Marie had also suffered a bout with breast cancer, so their interest in touring was reduced already. The Cox Family built a recording studio in their home so that they could continue making music, but Marie’s passing in 2009 seemed to put that to an end.

A final recording was released in 2015, Gone Like The Cotton, which had been recently completed from tracks that they started as many as 17 years prior. But it was finished without Willard’s participation.

He has been living in a nursing home this past few years. No announcements have been made about funeral arrangements.

R.I.P., Willard Cox.

UPDATE 11/7 

Willard Lawrence Cox Funeral Arrangements – posted by the funeral home.

Visitation: Thursday 11/07/2019 at 6:00 p.m. @ First Baptist Church in Minden, LA

Funeral Services: Friday 11/08/2019 at 2:00 p.m. @ First Baptist Church in Minden, LA

He will be laid to rest in the Cotton Valley Cemetery in Cotton Valley, LA

The Family wishes to thank you all the thoughts and prayers shown during this time so far! Please continue to keep us in your prayers in the next few days as we celebrate his life!

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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.