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.