Known as one of the leading bluegrass music legends of the 1970s, Tony Rice passed away on Christmas Day at the age of 69.
The International Bluegrass Music Association confirmed the news in a statement provided to Fox News.
“With a heavy heart, we bid farewell to one of the most iconic voices and musicians in bluegrass history. David Anthony ‘Tony’ Rice passed away at his home in Reidsville, NC,” the statement read in part. “For those of us who are fortunate enough to know and hear Mr. Rice, it is an impossible task to put into words his infinite skill and influence. As a singer, songwriter and guitarist, there is little that will ever match its impact on bluegrass and acoustic music. ‘
The artist’s former label, Rounder Records, further elucidated the music legend in a statement on Facebook.
“We were all deeply saddened by the news of Tony Rice’s sudden passing on Christmas Day, and we express his sincere condolences to his loved ones and his many fans. May he rest in peace,” the report said.
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Rice was perhaps best known for playing with Ricky Skaggs with the band The New South. Skaggs was among the group of musicians to share their thoughts on Rice’s career and influence after the news of his passing became known.
“Tony Rice was the most influential acoustic guitarist in the last 50 years. Many, if not all of today’s Bluegrass guitarists would say they cut their teeth on Tony Rice’s music. He loved the next generation’s. “I think that’s where he got most of his joy as a player,” Skaggs wrote on Facebook.
He continues: “Not only was Tony a brilliant guitarist, but he was also one of the most stylistic lead singers in Bluegrass music history. When I joined The New South in 1974, I knew I was a singing partner with Tony.Our voices flowed together like brothers.In 1980 we recorded the album ‘Skaggs And Rice’ for Sugar Hill as a tribute to our duet heroes with the simplicity of guitar, mandolin and our voices.All the years later told “People tell me how the purity of the record still touches their hearts. That’s who Tony was, a singer of hearts.”
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According to Variety, Rice was a member of JD Crowe’s New South in the early 1970s before joining Skaggs. He would later perform with a myriad of groups and even host some like The Tony Rice Unit. He is also known for his work with banjoist Bela Fleck and Jerry Garcia.
The issue reports that in 2013, Rice was inducted into the International Bluegrass Hall of Fame in 2013 for playing the guitar in public due to a medical condition that made playing his beloved instrument difficult for him. He has not sung live since then, shortly after being diagnosed with muscular dystrophy in 1994.
It didn’t take long before other country artists turned to them on social media to pay tribute to Rice.
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“I am very sad to hear about the death of Tony Rice. No one has had a more profound impact on my musical world. His playing, singing, writing and arranging have broken the form of the bluegrass and will forever testify to the the fact that music can take you anywhere and anywhere, ‘he wrote Chris Thile.
“Playing with Tony was like climbing on a magic carpet,” added Fleck. “His rhythm game sets you free …”
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“Tony Rice has inspired so many people, including a kid like me from East Tennessee who was amazed at the way he sang and played My And My Guitar. I will never forget putting it on at the IBMA Bluegrass Festival. “Owensboro, Ky, did not see singing. It was pressed into my brain forever! Rest in peace Tony Rice,” wrote Kenny Chesney.