05 December 2021

Bea Lilly

Michael Burt 'Bea' Lilly was born one hundred years ago today (5 Dec. 1921) in Clear Creek, Raleigh county, WV. He and his younger brother Everett formed a guitar-and-mandolin vocal duo in the 1930s, which later became the core of a bluegrass band featuring fellow West Virginian Don Stover on banjo, and often with Tex Logan on fiddle. As Fred Bartenstein writes in his biographical article for the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame, they

bridged the brother duet style of the 1930s into the emerging bluegrass genre of the 1940s and 1950s. A kind of 'living encyclopedia', the Lilly Brothers evoked for modern audiences the sounds and performance techniques of earlier decades.

Their long-term residency in the Boston area influenced a generation of performers from the folk music revival. The Lilly Brothers and Don Stover were inducted into the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame in 2002, and (see Richard Thompson's 2008 article on Bluegrass Today) into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame in 2008. In the image above, from the cover of one of their recordings, Bea is in the foreground. He and Everett were greatly influenced by the Monroe Brothers, and to mark this occasion here is a song - recorded in 1936 by the Monroes - from that 1962 album.

© Richard Hawkins



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