Banjo player Roni Stoneman, "Hee Haw" star, passes away
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Banjo player Roni Stoneman, "Hee Haw" star, passes away

Friday, February 23, 2024 – Roni Stoneman, a bluegrass banjo player and a cast member of the TV show "Hee Haw," passed away on Thursday at the age of 85.

Stoneman was the youngest daughter of Ernest V. "Pop" Stoneman, head of the Stoneman Family, a famous family groupsin early country music.

The Stoneman Family won the Country Music Association Award for Vocal Group of the Year in 1967. She was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame in 2021 along with her family.

Her father had a hit song in 1924 with "The Sinking of the Titanic," the first-ever million-selling country-music record. However, the 1929 Depression proved devastating.

In 1956, Pop Stoneman resurrected his music career starting a family band with his wife and some of his children. Roni learned to play banjo and joined the band the following year. The group appeared on TV and had their own series, "Those Stonemans," from 1966-68.

Pop died in 1968, leaving Roni to pursue a solo career.

Two years later, she joined the cast of "Hee Haw." She played banjojand sang and garnered attention for her comedic bits. Her most prominent character was Lee Nagger.

Stoneman continued to perform, sometimes with her sister, Donna. They were the final two members of the Stoneman Family band to survive.

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum CEO Kyle Young, said, "For Roni Stoneman, known as 'The First Lady of the Banjo,' country music was a birthright and her life's work. The second youngest of 23 children born to Hattie and Ernest 'Pop' Stoneman, Roni was an integral part of a bedrock country music family who were longtime fixtures in the country music scene of Washington, DC. For 18 years on Hee Haw, she stole scenes as both a skillful banjo player and as a comical, gap-toothed country character. She was a great talent and a strong woman."

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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