Performing at the 2013 IBMA Bluegrass Music Awards

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Watch the late guitarist joined by Sam Bush, Ricky Skaggs, Jerry Douglas, Todd Phillips and Wyatt Rice.

By Andy Kahn Dec 25 2021 • 1:34 PM PST

Influential guitarist Tony Rice died on this date last year. The famous master of the acoustic guitar was 69 years old. Among the honors bestowed on Rice was her induction into the International Bluegrass Music Association Hall of Fame in 2013.

Rice was inducted into the IBMA Hall of Fame by Sam bush and Peter Rowan during the ceremony held on September 26, 2013 at the Memorial Auditorium in Raleigh, North Carolina. In addition to delivering her own speech, Rice appeared on stage for what became her last public performance.

In the years leading up to his induction into the IBMA Hall of Fame, Rice faced several health issues that first forced him to stop singing and then quit performing altogether. As detailed by Bush and Rowan, who both collaborated with the talented guitarist, Rice was an acoustic guitar innovator whose sound and style are rooted in bluegrass music.

In addition to Bush and Rowan, Rice’s credits included performances with David Grisman, Béla Fleck, JD Crowe’s New South, Ricky Skaggs, the group Bluegrass Album and the Bluegrass Alliance, as well as a session with Grisman and Jerry Garcia that was posted as Pizza ribbons.

Rice also maintained a successful solo recording career, releasing her debut album, Guitar in 1973. Rice was also the conductor of the Tony Rice Unit, whose dynamic lineup included many of the most talented and sought-after bluegrass musicians. The 1979 Tony Rice Unity Album Manzanita raised Rice’s profile in the genre and beyond. Alongside Rice on the famous contemporary bluegrass LP was Bush on mandolin and violin, Grisman on mandolin, Skaggs on violin and mandolin, Jerry douglas on dobro, Todd phillips on bass and Darol Anger on the violin.

“One of Tony’s greatest contributions to music has been his explosive yet silky rhythm over the years,” Rowan told the IBMA Awards. “It was almost impossible to hear a bluegrass band without hearing a rhythm guitar sound influenced by Tony Rice. It is no exaggeration to say that. Much like Earl Scruggs did on the five-string banjo. Tony Rice has created a language on his instrument, that of the guitar, which is spoken all over the world.

Prior to his health problems, Rice was a renowned singer as well as an outstanding guitarist, deserving the praise of Roy Orbison and countless others. Although he did not perform at the IBMA Awards, Rice performed and delivered a touching speech delivered with a weakened voice. During his remarks, Rice addressed his friend Alison Krauss, who herself struggled with vocal issues at the time, and demonstrated that with the right amount of effort he could still speak. in a clear, unaffected voice resembling his youth.

“I said to myself that if I continued like this, one day again, I might be able to do what I have sometimes missed for 19 years now, which is to express myself poetically through the music, ”Rice said. “And if I can keep that momentum going, maybe one of these days I can.”

After the induction speeches, Rice performed the Manzanita main track, “Old Train”, which was written by Herb Pedersen. Several of the album’s contributors joined Rice, as he was accompanied by Bush, Skaggs, Douglas and Philips, as well as Tony’s brother Wyatt Rice on guitar.

Watch Tony Rice’s final public performance at the 2013 IBMA Bluegrass Music Awards and his Hall of Fame induction speech below:


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