Curtis McPeake, Banjo Legend, Passes at 93

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Curtis McPeake, banjo legend, Swift River Music Artist, and Andy’s good friend, duo partner, and pickin’ buddy for 25 years. He was 93.

During a career spanning 70 years in the country music business, McPeake played stints with several world-famous bands -including some of the biggest names in the history of bluegrass music. In the early 1950s, Curtis began to appear on the Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs TV show, and eventually came to be counted on as a stand-in for Earl when one was needed. Curtis also played with Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys in 1960-61, playing Carnegie Hall and cutting 18 classic songs with Monroe on his Mr. Blue Grass and Blue Grass Ramble albums.

After leaving Monroe, Curtis joined Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper and worked with them throughout 1963. After this stint he signed on with WSM as a staff musician and played the Grand Ole Opry for several years. He was also much in demand as a studio musician during this time, adding his signature sound to hundreds of cuts by various artists. Curtis left the Opry in 1970 to join Danny Davis and the Nashville Brass and toured around the world with them until 1987.

McPeake was honored with the IBMA Distinguished Achievement Award in 2018 and the Uncle Dave Macon Days Trailblazer Award in 2010 in recognition of his lifetime of work as a banjo player and vintage instrument expert.

Curtis McPeake’s name is spoken with something very much like reverence in the nationwide banjo community. 

— Bluegrass Unlimited

Photo by Chuck Thompson. Taken at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

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