Curly Seckler

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Curly Seckler

Post by lo&m » Thu Dec 28, 2017 4:00 pm

First-generation bluegrass musician Curly Seckler, whose percussive mandolin chop was an integral part of Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs’ sound in the 1950s, died Wednesday morning. He was 98 years old. “In my opinion, the greatest tenor singer of all time,” Marty Stuart has said of Seckler, whose musical career began in 1935.

John Ray Sechler was born Christmas Day 1919 on a farm near China Grove, N.C. The fourth of Calvin and Carrie Sechler’s eight children, he was nicknamed “Curly” at an early age.
Curly Seckler waves his hat after playing at the 15th

Curly Seckler waves his hat after playing at the 15th International Bluegrass Music Awards and being inducted into the Bluegrass Hall of Honor, Thursday, Oct. 7, 2004 in Louisville, Ky. Seckler was best known for his rhythm mandolin playing and tenor harmony singing while working off and on with Flatt & Scruggs' Foggy Mountain Boys from 1949 to 1962.
There was neither running water nor electricity in the family home, but there was music: Calvin played the autoharp, Carrie the guitar and organ.

Seckler’s education ended with the sixth grade. Calvin Sechler died when Curly was 9 years old, and before long, Curly and his siblings had an exhausting regimen of daily chores to help maintain the family farm. But in his free time, Seckler began learning how to play a banjo that belonged to a local musician named Happy Trexler. At 16, he got a job in a cotton mill and slowly saved enough money to buy his own banjo. He and his brothers formed a band called the Yodeling Rangers in 1935; the group landed a daily radio program on the Salisbury, N.C. station WSTP.

In 1939, Seckler, then 19, caught the attention of musician Charlie Monroe. He hired Seckler to sing in his group the Kentucky Partners, which he formed after he and brother Bill Monroe split.

Seckler joined Flatt and Scruggs’ Foggy Mountain Boys in 1949. Except for a few brief absences, he remained with the group until 1962. His mandolin playing and tenor singing made him an essential part of the band’s sound. After his exit from the Foggy Mountain Boys, Seckler got a job driving a truck. But he couldn’t stay away from bluegrass forever. He recorded his first solo album, “Curly Seckler Sings Again,” in 1971; the record got glowing reviews from music publications Bluegrass Unlimited and Muleskinner News.

Flatt and Scruggs split in 1969, and Seckler joined Flatt’s band the Nashville Grass in 1973. When a teenage Marty Stuart joined the Nashville Grass, Seckler took the young musician under his wing. "It was like leaning up against an old oak tree," said Stuart of his lifelong friendship with Seckler. "He was irreplaceable. He didn’t cuss, he didn’t smoke, he didn’t drink, he didn’t talk bad on anybody, he didn’t cheat on his wife...they don't make them like that any more."

Flatt died in 1979, and Seckler led the band until retiring in 1994. But even in retirement, Seckler didn’t stay still. In 1995, he released the album “60 Years of Bluegrass with My Friends.” In the 2000s, he performed at festivals like MerleFest and San Francisco’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. He also continued to write and record new material. “Bluegrass, Don’t You Know,” his last album, came out in 2006.

His last television appearance came in 2011 (seven months after undergoing triple bypass surgery following a heart attack). That day, he sang the gospel song "Lord, I'm Coming Home" on "The Marty Stuart Show."

Text from The Tennessean.
Country is a state of mind, not a state of America.

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