Dobro master Josh Graves dies
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Dobro master Josh Graves dies

Saturday, September 30, 2006 – Uncle Josh Graves, who introduced the Dobro to bluegrass, died Saturday after a series of health problems. He was about 81, although different ages are given for Graves.

Graves was a member of Flatt & Scruggs during the 1950s and '60s. Graves was born in Tellico Plains, Tenn.

Music historian Bill C. Malone said "Graves perfected a rolling syncopated style that enabled him to play galloping breakdowns as well as slow love songs or ballads."

Graves was attracted to the Dobro as a child on hearing Cliff Carlisle play on Jimmie Rodgers' recordings. He later met Carlisle, who gave him help and encouragement. In 1942, he made his professional debut with the Pierce Brothers. After then playing with Esco Hankins in Knoxville, he played with Molly O'Day and Mac Wiseman, before joining Stoney Cooper And Wilma Lee on the WWVA Wheeling Jamboree.

In 1957, he moved with them to the Grand Ole Opry, where he first met Flatt and Scruggs and became a permanent member of their Foggy Mountain Boys, initially playing bass, but soon changing to Dobro.

When Flatt And Scruggs split in 1969, he became a member of Flatt's Nashville Grass until 1971, when he joined the Earl Scruggs Revue until 1974. During the 60s and early 70s, he played on albums by both Flatt and Scruggs and as a session musician, he played albums by other artists including Steve Young and Kris Kristofferson.

In 1974, he left Scruggs to work as a session musician and to make solo appearances. He recorded his debut, "Alone At Last" for Epic Records and also appeared on releases by Charlie McCoy, Boots Randolph and James Talley. In 1975, he recorded a duet album with Jake Tullock as Uncle Jake And Uncle Josh (he had created Uncle Josh as an alter-ego comic character that he portrayed on stage, and he was friendly with Tullock from his days with Flatt and Scruggs).

In the '80s, Graves, Mike Auldridge and Jerry Douglas produced Dobro Summit, an educational video, and he also played as a member of the Masters, with Eddie Adcock, Kenny Baker and Jesse McReynolds.

In the 90s, Graves still did session work. Graves was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Association's Hall of Honor in 1997.

CD reviews for Josh Graves

"Uncle" Josh Graves introduced the dobro to bluegrass during his tenure with Flatt and Scruggs in the 1950s. Graves and the Foggy Mountain Boys wrote and recorded some of the greatest instrumentals of all-time and helped to set a new course for bluegrass. This is a very appropriately titled recording as Graves and company reprise many of these instrumentals, including "Shuckin' The Corn," "Foggy Mountain Special," "Foggy Mountain Rock," "Maggie Blues," "Flatt Lonesome," "Pike County Breakdown" ...
Burkett H. "Josh" Graves played a major role in bringing the dobro to prominence as a lead bluegrass instrument. "Uncle Josh," as he is affectionately known, attempts to bring back some of the old magic with these 14 cuts, mostly bluegrass standards. "Your Love is Like a Flower," "Shuckin' the Corn," and "Cora is Gone" will be familiar to most bluegrassers. Terry Eldridge does a solid job on lead vocals. One of the joys is hearing the fiddle of Kenny Baker. Baker and Graves play off each other ...

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