04 June 2014

James Alan Shelton, 1960-2014

Within the space of two months, bluegrass music has lost two supreme masters of the cross-picking style of lead guitar playing. On 7 April George Shuffler (below right; shown at his induction into the IBMA's Hall of Fame) died at the age of 88. James Alan Shelton (left and below left) died yesterday evening. Both had long and close connections with Dr Ralph Stanley: George Shuffler worked with Ralph and his brother Carter in the 1950s and '60s; James Alan Shelton has been guitarist and road manager with Ralph's Clinch Mountain Boys for twenty years, including the band's Dublin visit in 2003.

A fine photo by Jim Wing of them playing side by side on a festival stage can be seen on the Flatpicking Guitar Network Forum. They can also be seen together on this YouTube video, an excerpt from Flatpicking Guitar Magazine's instructional DVD Clinch Mountain guitar, in which James Alan Shelton interviews George Shuffler.

Update: A commemorative article on George Shuffler by Derek Halsey, including ample quotation from James Alan Shelton, appears in the June 2014 issue of Bluegrass Unlimited magazine.

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