Win a personalized copy of Tony Rice biography

Bluegrass Today is teaming up with Word Of Mouth Press to give away five copies of the long-awaited Tony Rice biography, Still Inside, personally autographed and inscribed by the Rice Man himself.

The book, written by Tim Stafford and Caroline Wright, has just started shipping, with an official release scheduled during Merlefest at the end of the month. Tony will be on site at the Word Of Mouth exhibitor booth, signing copies throughout the festival, and he will sign copies for each of our winners next weekend as well.

To enter, simply add a comment to this post, answering the question “What effect has Tony Rice’s music had on you? How has it affected your life?” The impact could be musical, or personal, or spritual, or… whatever! Be creative, but try to keep it under 100 words.

Tim Stafford and Bobby Starnes from Word Of Mouth will narrow down the best entries that come in between now and next Thursday (April 29), and have Tony select the five winners at Merlefest.

Personalized copies will be mailed to the successful entries when the Merlefest dust has cleared in early May.

You know you want one – enter now!

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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.

  • codyfrost

    Tony Rice’s guitar playing has been the most influential of all others on my playing style. I started playing guitar when I was 10 and learned who Tony was at about 12 and from that day he has been a definate guitar hero of mine. While I dont play just like him,(if I could I would!!), his techniques are something that is the backbone to my playing. Tony is a hero to me.

  • ffmedic152

    Having to learn the guitar alone here in SC is a challenging task. I’m only 29 y/o and started playing when I was 15. Tony’s playing has opened my eyes to what I thought were bad habits of mine. I was always trying to go by the book and becoming frustrated. Then I noticed Tony doesn’t always “go by the book”. Upstoke, upstroke, double downstroke, odd chord choices, you name it. I’m nowhere near where I wanna be but watching and listening to Tony has let me know to become my own musician, not a cookie cutter. Thanks Tony

  • LittleLwood

    I’m a banjo picker by trade but I really got into Tony and his guitar playing after hearing the Skaggs & Rice album. By the time the first Bluegrass Album Band recording hit, I was a huge TR fan! But I had never seen him in person. That would all change in 1981, when The Album Band (and Tony) made their first appearance at the Doyle Lawson festival in Denton, NC. I was on the front row when the band came out… at a time! Tony was the last to be introduced and when he walked out on that stage…….well, it was almost a religious experience for me! Tears were actually running down my cheeks! Before their set was over, I had no voice left!! Of the many unbelieveable experiences that I’ve had in bluegrass, that one ranks right at the top!

  • rekx

    Tony Rice first brought me into bluegrass music. But then he taught me that any music is not bound by stylistic walls. He taught me that music is about heart, communication and honesty. In that way, with bluegrass Tony Rice brought me into jazz.

  • Joan Bullard

    My first exposure to Tony Rice dates back to the mid 70s when he teamed up with JD Crowe & the New South & ended up buying the landmark lp that was self titled, & got some solo lps by him as well. He helped pave the way to future guitar pickers.He had a crystal clear singing voice which is so sorely missed. He was also multi genred & is excellent in doing jazz inflected pieces.

  • srichardson

    In April 1993, I was a casual Bluegrass fan. A friend recommended I go to MerleFest. I did, and got to see Tony Rice in person for the first time. I witnessed sets with the Tony Rice Unit, Blake & Rice, and the All-Star Jam (Rice, Bush, Douglas, O’Connor, etc). This ended up being the first and last time that I was able to hear Tony sing, which lends even more significance to the experience. From that point forward, Bluegrass music was no longer just a form of entertainment for me, but a way of life. Thanks Tony!

  • brandon_brummett

    Tony Rice is the smoothest guitar player alive. Wish I could do anything half as well as Tony picks his guitar.

  • david

    Simply put, Tony Rice’s “Manzanita” made me a bluegrass fan. I’ve been in love ever since.

  • I thought I knew bluegrass until I saw the Tony Rice & Friends Live DVD Concert. Ever since then I’ve been soaking up lesson DVDs, CDs, and any runs & licks I could hear him play from a combination of both. His tone, phrasing, and pure passion for the guitar, not even counting bluegrass music itself, are unmatched by any other acoustic guitarist I’ve ever seen. He made me totally rethink the way I play and how to get the best tone out of my guitar. I would love to learn more about the man and his music by winning a signed copy of this book. Thanx.

  • Jeff Dodson

    “What effect has Tony Rice’s music had on you? How has it affected your life?” The impact could be musical, or personal, or spritual, or… whatever!

    Tony Rice’s music has had a lasting effect on me in that he has kept me practicing my instrument(s) on a regular basis. I referenece to the adage “Practice Makes Perfect”, he has made me realize that nothing is “perfect”, especially in musical terms, so you should always be practicing, improving, searching, etc…. It is inspirational to Tony enjoy such success in his straight-ahead, Bluegrass style as well as his Jazz inflected, swing style; not an easy task.

    As great as Tony’s lead work is, I am more inspired by his supportive and undeniably identifiable rhythm work. Acoustic Rhythm Guitar, in a Bluegrass context, is a lost art and everyone should be drawing from Tony’s well on this one.

    In my opinion, Bluegrass Lead and Rhythm Guitar is what it is today because of Tony Rice and those who influenced him……PERIOD. Musically speaking, if you were to check the dictionary for the phrase “Living Legend”, it would surely say, “See Tony Rice”!!

    Congrats on the newly released Biography Mr Rice!

  • When Tony plays, either solo or with a band, its like he has an entire auditorium jammed into his guitar, the harmonic overtones are massive, cosmic even. When he plays rhythm for someone else he always brings out the best in their playing and drives it to the next level. This is what inspires me about his playing and what I think we should all aspire too, not just amazing mind bending lead licks, but amazing and complimentary back-ups-manship.


    If I had to pick one artist of any genre to represent the soundtrack of my life it would be Tony Rice. I remember being no older than 4 or 5 yrs old when I would sit inside my father’s cheap, frayed guitar case and listen as he’d try to pick and sing just like Tony did. I remember being 13 yrs old and knowing that I had to be different because all my friends were reciting all the lyrics to the newest pop tune and I was humming Cold on the Shoulder. I remember when my wife and I were dating in college and we skipped out on Friday classes and drove 4 hours to see Tony play 60 minutes of music at a festival in Virginia. And now that my wife is 8 months pregnant with our first son I can’t help but be excited to share with him the gift that is Tony Rice’s music and legacy, because I know, first-hand, its a gift that lasts a lifetime. Thank you, Tony.

  • jimc

    I stepped outside into an Early Morning Rain. It was Cold on My Shoulder. Only 16 Miles more to go on that Old Train. I was tired, but that was the Last Thing on My Mind, because Me and My Guitar were Gonna Settle Down and pick again. The Unfaithful One had said I had to choose between her and the guitar, so I told her I’d Rather Be Alone. Hey, there are More Pretty Girls than One, but there’s only one Tony Rice. As I stood Out in the Cold World, I cursed his fingers for making those magical sounds that are Fine as Fine Can Be, because it was those sounds and that voice that made me tuck my Summer Wages in my pocket and Go My Way. Now I’m never Gonna Lay Down My Old Guitar, but I’m sure never gonna pick like Tony, either.

  • Ken_P

    I wouldn’t have started flatpicking if it weren’t for Tony Rice. His playing on a number of different projects kept drawing my ear and I had to find out who was making that incredible sound. I think the Blake and Rice albums feature some of the most brilliant and beautifully subtle guitar work I’ve ever heard. I’ve always said that Tony is one of the few guitarists you could recognize instantly, even if he just picks an open string a couple times – that tone can’t be mistaken for anyone else!

  • Pickin T

    Tony Rice. The name is absolutely synonymous with bluegrass music but how does one go 39 years without even hearing of the guy? Even more so, how have I as a musician (Guitarist) lived that long and not ever have the pleasure of hearing a single one of his notes. That answer simply is that Tony Rice IS the most under recognized guitarist out there. I am sure this is because the form of music called Bluegrass is one of the most under appreciated music genre there is. So, what has Tony Rice meant to me you ask? Once I heard him for the first time I was blown away and had to search him out, and in the process, I discovered the world of Bluegrass music and you know what, it makes me sick that i did not hear Tony 20 years ago, oh what I have been missing! Thanks Tony!

  • Jim Busch

    I began listening to Tony Rice & the Tony Rice Unit 10 years ago. I quickly became a fan, traded in my old acoustic guitar for a Martin “box”, an HD-40. Tony Rice is the person responsible for me loving acoustic music more than any other form. Tony, to me, is the best guitarist of any across all generes. Tony, to me, is guitar, is bluegrass, is music. Thanks to Tony, my wife also has a new appreciation for acoustic guitar, and I would say it has enhanced our relationship ;o)

  • Tony Rice taught an entire generation of Bluegrass Flatpickers how to play with soul.
    His contributions to acoustic guitar playing will last as long as someone picks guitar for fun or on stage.

  • Tony Rice taught an entire generation of Bluegrass Flatpickers how to play with soul.
    His contributions to acoustic guitar playing will last as long as someone picks guitar for fun or on stage.
    Tony taught me to play bluegrass guitar with my own voice, and his licks have made others smile when I play them.

  • Gary Messer

    I loved the vocals on Rock Salt and Nails by JD Crowe and after finding out that it was Tony Rice “way back when” I was the more saddened that Tony could no longer sing like that. I heard him so much at Merlefest as an awesome guitarist that I never knew he sang until someone told me about “back when Tony sang” and a good friend loaned me Church Street Blues that I had no idea what was lost when that voice was lost! It’s so amazing for one person to have that much talent. So glad that he can play that guitar like no one else can! The Gordon Lighfoot songs CD is one of my favorites!

  • wdan1970

    What can I say? Tony is the man. I don’t play like him, mainly because I ain’t smart enough to figure out all the complicated stuff he pulls off. Yeah sure I have stolen some licks but what has inspired me most is what a lot of young pickers overlook, the man can play some rhythm. To me if you can play note for note with a Rice recording but are weak on rhythm you ain’t a complete picker. In a jam I am just as happy playing a good solid driving rhythm as to play lead.

  • fretmasher

    When I was growing up I would hear a bluegrass song once in a great while and it always made me stop and listen.Even when I was little.They didnt play much in Ohio on the radio.I went to my first festival in 1984 .I could not believe all these folks playing this wonderful music.That was the greatest day in my life.To have alot of good people to learn from.Then I heard the album band and Tony Rice plays and sings bluegrass music.I literally learned to play bluegrass guitar listening to the stereo.As I have crossed over in the over 50 club I realize his music has taught me to play like me instead of anyone else.No one can match his singing and style as a musician.Thanks Tony for teaching me how to play this wonderful music that has so changed my life. Fretmasher

  • Kwassi

    In the mid 80’s, I met Roland White in Ivory Coast, West Africa, where my wife and I were Baptist missionaries. He told me about the Station Inn. In the late-80’s I returned to be on staff at a very conservative college and to go to a “club” would have been frowned on. But Tony Rice was coming to the Station Inn. So, in my mind I could have been at risk of losing my job or at least a firm rebuke, I went and watched the mastery of one of truly great artists in America today. No regrets!

  • Sher

    My husband & I did not get into bluegrass music until the late ’80’s. For my husband, it was love at first sound. Not for me. Until I heard a tape of Tony Rice. Wow! From then on, I was in love with everything I heard that Tony did. Our son also is a fan. The only time I ever attended Frontier Ranch was the year of the tornado & terrible flood. (Yes, everyone blames me.) Tony was on the bill, & I was so excited to see & hear him live. I went to the stage area quite a while before his scheduled time sitting in the million degree heat alone just hoping for a glimpse of him before hearing him. Even though the heat was literally torturous, I did not mind. I mean–Tony Rice! After sitting there in the furnaces of Ohio, the sky then proceeded to open up & more rain than I have ever experienced at one time soaked me through. Still, I did not mind. It was all for Tony, even though everything was cancelled from that point. Last year, I FINALLY got to see him at the Bluegrass Classic. WONDERFUL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Please choose my comment as a winner so my unrequited love can become somewhat requited.

  • Jerry B

    The combination of Tony’s guitar playing and vocals set the “STANDARD” for the way bluegrass and acoustic music should sound. A soulful voice and diverse chops on the guitar made me sit up and pay full attention to learn from his recordings. The guy has cut one of the widest paths in bluegrass and acoustic music that I can think of.

  • Randy Denney

    I have been playing bluegrass for almost 40 years. I am a banjo picker, and I am still blown away by Tony Rice. Tony is the man. When you say bluegrass flat picking you say Tony Rice.
    He set the standard for every other person who ever tried to play a lead break in bluegrass. Other than Clarence White, who was Tony’s inspiration, nobody ever got close to Tony’s level. Every flat picker on the planet can stand-up and thank Tony for setting the standard. Without Tony who knows where guitar picking would be stalled today. Thank you MR. RICE!!!!

  • crankbait

    Tony Rice…..TONY RICE……That’s it. Nothing else need be said.If you follow bluegrass or play bluegrass, no words need to follow….You know.In exactly the same reverent tone that the name Earl Scruggs is spoken , the name Tony Rice is spoken as well.Every lick and chord are branches connected to the mighty oak.Every clear and clean word sung looks in the mirror, and sees Tony Rice staring back.

  • stephenpjohnson

    Tony’s music has been the doorway to the entire world of bluegrass and related music I never would have entered without his invitation. His influence has encouraged me to build a large music collection, learn to build and play guitars, and attend many bluegrass shows over the last 20 years. I have made many new friends through my cultural transformation. My experience of Tony and his music has gone through many stages: childlike wonder, amazement, hero worship,
    disappointment, acceptance, and quiet admiration. The most amazing thing of all is that in spite of his fame and the demands people make of him that he has been able to retain a small piece of “Tony Rice” for himself.

  • HD28

    I’m wary of “best of all time” titles, but I can’t think of a better rhythm player than Tony Rice. He plays like water; he moves around the structure of the song filling up the empty spaces and supporting whoever is taking a break or singing. He can drive it or make it beautiful without stepping on toes or tones. And let’s give the guy some credit for being a great one-on-one collaborator. His duet records with Ricky Skaggs, Norman Blake (twice), David Grisman, and John Carlini show just how varied and impressive his musical career has been so far.

  • My first dose of Tony Rice came over the radio, via the first David Grisman Quintet album. Tony’s playing opened me up to a whole new world of acoustic music. He has been an inspiration
    to myself and many, many others. He single handedly changed the way we thought about acoustic guitar, and has given us all something to strive for, as well as many years of amazing music!

  • wmaclean

    The way Tony’s playing has changed from his time
    with the Bluegrass Alliance to the modern era
    show the true depth of his art. Like an accomplished
    painter he found the aspects of his playing
    that distinguished him and developed them.
    His playing is often imitated but when you
    hear Tony you know it’s him.

  • I’m a life-long educator and a born and bred Boomer raised on Brenda Lee, Patsy Cline, the Beatles, Rolling Stones, CSNY, James Taylor, the Doobie Brothers, Allman Brothers, and all things Rock ‘n Roll & Motown. And then came “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” volumes I, II, & III followed by John Prine. Next came a boss who introduced me to the Seldom Scene. Interesting enough, but I finally got down to the muscle and bone of the music when a close friend from Roanoke puts on a cassette tape (look it up if you’re under 40), featuring the vocals and guitar of Tony Rice. Next thing I know, its almost 40 years later and I’m all Bluegrass all the time and LOVIN’ it. Thanks Dale. But a special thanks to Tony Rice.

  • timcarter57

    I grew up in NC and use to hear Tony at the Camp Springs festival in the 70’s… he’s why I still play music today.. thanks bro.

  • As a 25 year old guitar picker, I would say that Tony Rice is responsible for much of the enthusiasm among younger fans about bluegrass guitar. His style and virtuosity create the same kind of draw for young pickers as eddie van halen or jimmie page do for rock n roll genre. He can turn three chord songs like Free Born Man into something that transcends the stereotypes of simple hillbilly music.

  • FlyingRabbit

    Tony’s music was really a gateway for me into bluegrass. When I was in college, I met my now wife. She came from a family of bluegrass-addicts, and through her gentle nudging got me to listen to some albums. Nothing struck me as hard as “Manzanita”. It blew me away. Completely and utterly threw me for a loop. The playing was so good. It also introduced me to musicians like Grisman, Sam Bush, Darol Anger, Jerry Douglas, and others who contributed. Since that record, and to a greater extent–Tony Rice–came into my life and into my ears, bluegrass was just another genre I wasn’t interested in. Now, much like my wife and her family, I’m addicted.

  • mjoyceweng

    Tony Rice has impacted the world of bluegrass and its fans.
    He talent is god given. He has touched many with his playing, and in the past with his singing. I have everything he has recorded and believe it or not one of my favorites is ”
    Tony Rice sings Gordon Lightfoot”. If you don’t have this, its a must have. We have seen Tony in person many times over the years and we are true fans.

  • fasterthanlight

    Through a haze of stunning licks, powerful runs and an intricate yet driving rhythm, Tony Rice has created a language every flatpicker wants to speak. However, perhaps the most inspiring part of it all is that Rice, like the rest of us, is just a man.

  • nancycardwell

    Tony Rice’s guitar re-set the heartbeat of bluegrass music. And thank God, none of us have really felt the same since then.
    -Nancy Cardwell

  • tonymowell

    To say Tony Rice influenced me would be a major understatement at best. If not for Tony Rice’s music I most likely wouldn’t even be a musician at all! My Dad played bass for some local bands and would take me along with him to rehearsals, there he would always pop in the Manzanita project to “Get in the mood” he would say. I was totally captivated by the sound and knew as a kid that in some capacity I wanted to play this style of music. I still consider the Manzanita project my favorite album of all time! I am always amazed at Tony’s tone, timing, and taste no matter if he is singing or playing. His choice of songs for recordings is unmatched from bluegrass standards, to doing a compilation album of Gordon Lightfoot tunes; it still has that same sound. Thanks Tony!!!!!!

  • rdoe99

    I only just discovered bluegrass music a few years ago. I’ve played guitar for 30 years now, but, because I played different genres of music, I somehow had never heard of Tony Rice. He has impressed us all with his versitility, creativity, and longevity. I try to figure out his stuff all the time, and each time I learn more and more about playing bluegrass guitar that I can apply generally. I look forward to reading his book and learning more about his life and how he came to be what he is today.

  • mtndas

    After seeing Tony Rice tear out of the parking lot of the Birchmere in Virginia sometime in 1994, I committed myself to chain smoking and saving up hard cash for jewelry and a jet black Ford Mustang. If it wasn’t for that moment I wouldn’t be the hack guitar player walking on the edge of debauchery that I am today. Though as the song goes, “It takes a worries man, to sing a worries song,” so I’ve got that going for me.

  • rowebb

    To listen to the guitar of Tony Rice is to be continually amazed. How can music be both understated as a soft breeze and forceful as a rushing river? How can a tune as old as the hills sound as fresh as the dew? It seems like magic, but it must have taken untold hours of hard work and perseverance to sound so effortless. When I first discovered bluegrass 12 years ago, Tony’s unmatched tone and unique musicality inspired me (as countless others) to take up the guitar. But I confess that I was first drawn to his comfortable vocals. Whether with JD Crowe, the Bluegrass Album Band, or his own classic projects, he has continually raised the bar. (I was finally privileged to see him live just last week in Wisconsin. Thanks, Tony, for the great music and the great memories!)

  • d18guy

    First saw him in 1975 at Randy Wood’s Old Time Pickin’ Parlor with JD Crowe and the New South. Although I’ve never learned any of his material note for note, his tone helped me win two National Flatpicking Championships (1980, 1991). Thanks TR.

  • AS606

    Tony Rice set the bar in so many ways as a musician. First as a a guitar player and a lead vocolist in more than just Bluegrass music. His stage presence and the way he approches eveything that is musical should set a example for all muicians of every instrument. And most of all as Tony has stated “find your own musical identy”, don’t be a clone or a copy, that is his most important and helpful point that he could make. Thank you Tony for all the great music.

  • Mike Brantley

    Tony’s playing has contributed towards making me the most interesting man in the world. My enemies now list me as their emergency contact because I listen to Tony Rice solos. I once had an awkward moment, just to see what it felt like.

  • edgecrane

    Tony was one of my first introductions into bluegrass music. His style and music have changed my way of looking at music. Thanks, Tony

  • Access. That’s what Tony Rice’s music was for me.
    Growing up in the 70s and discovering the sounds of bluegrass, I knew this music spoke to me. Touched me. But there was something missing. On one level, I found it difficult to relate to the singing and picking of Flatt & Scruggs, Monroe, Martin, or The Stanleys, for they were from another time. But I could relate to Tony. He was of a new generation. He translated the songs, the emotions, the energy and spirit of the Old Guard and passed these along on to me and others of my age. Through Tony, I learned to understand what the pioneers of bluegrass were saying. For that gift I am grateful.

  • RightLeftRight

    Listening to Tony Rice’s music is an experience on its own, but participating in one of his workshops is even better. He is one of a kind, no doubt.

  • Kathy Thweatt

    It’s as simple as this…Tony Rice makes me want to pick up my guitar and pracetice. I can only dream of playing as well as he does, but he inspires me. Sure wish we could come to MerleFest this year!

  • tbmando

    I grew up listening to Tony’s records (Me and My Guitar, Cold on the Shoulder, etc.) while my dad would play along. I rediscovered these albums in my teens when I started playing and it brought me back to the familiar sounds of my childhood and inspired me to become the musician I am today. Now in my 20’s, Tony’s music (past and present) continues to influence, inspire and mold me as a musician. In my eyes, he will always be the epitome of bluegrass guitar and singing! Tony, you are a legend and a hero to us all!

  • mawithers

    I discovered Tony Rice about 35 years ago, since that time, his music has been a major part of my life. Anyone can pick up a guitar and make noise, but when it stirs your inner soul and emotions, its something special. Thats what makes Tony the craftsman that he is. I have also personally saw a side of Tony most people never have, when he used to take my little boy Anthony and hold him on his lap and tell him to call him uncle Tony, I saw the kind gentle and caring Tony that most folks have never got to see. That was over 20 years ago.