10 April 2015

Tut Taylor, 1923-2015

Robert Arthur 'Tut' Taylor - musician, luthier, instrument collector, master sign-painter, raconteur, and much more - died yesterday (9 Apr. 2015) at the age of 91. Appreciations have already appeared on Bluegrass Today, the Prescription Bluegrass Blog, and Bluegrass in Ireland, where Pat Kelleher of Co. Cork shares his personal memory of Tut.

Tut Taylor became involved with music as a teenager in Milledgeville, Georgia, and kept throughout his life a love of the old sounds of country music and bluegrass, while also taking part in ground-breaking recordings with John Hartford and many others. Anyone interested in bluegrass history should see the photos and stories on his website, not forgetting the gallery of his remarkable paintings on instrument cases. More on his life and music can be found at the Steam Powered Preservation Society website.

Tut was associated most closely with the dobro (which he played with a flat pick) and the mandolin. The photo above (taken c.1970?) shows him (centre) playing mandolin with Bill Monroe and Norman Blake; Joe Zinkan is on bass, and the English bluegrass pioneer Pete Sayers (who was working at WSM about that time) is on guitar at right centre. Partly hidden are Vassar Clements on fiddle (far left), Rual Yarborough on banjo, and another guitarist behind Sayers.

Update 20 Apr.: Much more information is now presented in a feature by Richard Thompson on Bluegrass Today.

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