25 October 2021

Sonny Osborne, 29 Oct. 1937-24 Oct. 2021 (update)

The BIB learns with great regret of the death yesterday (Sun. 24 Oct.) of Sonny Osborne, one of the most original and creative banjo-players and one of the most powerful personalities in bluegrass music, who died yesterday afternoon after suffering a stroke last week. He and his brother Bobby were inducted into the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame in 1994. Sonny retired from playing in 2004; Bill Evans compiled tributes to Sonny from his fellow musicians into 'Thanks, Chief: a Sonny Osborne appreciation', which was published in the Sept. 2007 issue of Banjo News Letter.

A fine obituary by John Curtis Goad has appeared on Bluegrass Today. It includes three videos, one of which is the medley of bluegrass tunes which Sonny recently considered a good example of the best of his playing.

Two splendid photos of the two giants of bluegrass banjo who have died this autumn, Sonny and his friend and contemporary Bill Emerson (22 Jan. 1938-21 Aug. 2021), can be seen on Bill Emerson's Facebook. The black-and-white one dates from the 1970s, and the colour photo (almost certainly) from not long before Sonny presented Bill with his induction into the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame two years ago.

Update 30 Oct.: Messages of thanks and appreciation to Sonny from many of his fellow musicians are now on Bluegrass Today.

© Richard Hawkins



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