Vassar Clements

(fiddle, bass - 1949-1950, 1955, 1961-1962, 1967)
At Bean Blossom, 2004. Photo courtesy of Jim Peva.

Born: 4/25/1928    Died: 8/16/2005

As a Blue Grass Boy: Fiddler Vassar Clements first played with Bill Monroe in the early 40s while still a teenager. In 1949 Bill hired him to replace Chubby Wise, and Vassar played on Bill's first recording sessions for Decca in 1950. In 1955 he rejoined the band, playing twin fiddle alongside Bobby Hicks. He returned for another short stint, playing bass, in 1959, and again on fiddle in the early 60s. Monroe was fond of his style, saying "Vassar is the blues fiddler, you know."

Recording Sessions: 2/3/1950, 4/8/1950, 9/16/1955, 11/9/1961, 11/9/1967

Before and After: Vassar played with Jim and Jesse for several years in the late 50s, and retired from full-time music for several years in the 60s. In the 70s he came to prominence as a member of John Hartford's band, a participant in the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" album, and as a member of Old and In the Way. His "Hillbilly Jazz" album, and its followups, are landmarks in fusing swing and jazz with country and bluegrass fiddling.

Honors: Fiddlers Hall of Fame (2001)

Links: Vassar Clements' official website