Bob Paisley ~1931 - 2004~
and fans mourn the passing of James R. "Bob" Paisley, a singer
and guitarist of the highest calibre, whose bluegrass music entertained
audiences for more than 50 years.
Bob founded and led one of
America's premier traditional bluegrass bands, Bob Paisley and The
Southern Grass, which became known around the world for their
musicianship and dedication to the traditional style. For over 25 years
the band maintained their distinctive brand of hard-driving bluegrass
music combining soulful and powerful harmony singing with exciting
The band performed at countless music
festivals, colleges, clubs, and special events, including President
Carter's inauguration and the Royal visit of Princess Anne of Great
Britain, and regularly toured in Europe, Japan, and Canada.
Bob was born March 14, 1931 in North Carolina to J. Herchel and Jessie
L. Williams Paisley, who relocated to Landenberg, Chester County,
Pennsylvania in search of work when Bob was only three. He learned to
thumb-pick a guitar from his mother, and his father played old-time
tunes on the banjo.
In 1951 Bob married Vivian O'Connor and
worked as a chemist to support his family, playing music on weekends.
After a stint in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, during which time
he played music in local clubs, Bob became widely known when he teamed
with revered banjo player Ted Lundy in the late 1960s. Together they
formed the Southern Mountain Boys and soon became one of the most
respected and sought-after outfits on the folk and bluegrass festival
Bob's powerful lead and tenor singing and sturdy
rhythm guitar playing were the rock-solid foundation of the Southern
Grass sound. He was always the consummate professional, and his
congeneality, reliability and modesty made him a favorite of promoters
Bob's son Dan, a similarly gifted guitarist
and brilliant vocalist, joined the band in 1974 at age 15, and has
developed into one of the most distinctive and expressive vocal
stylists in bluegrass music today. He plans to carry on in his father's
tradition with the help of his brother, bassist Michael Paisley, and
bandmates Bob Lundy (banjo), T.J. Lundy (fiddle), and Don Eldreth Jr.
(mandolin) -- all excellent musicians with rich family histories in
bluegrass and old-time music.
The ensemble has become known
for its unwavering sense of timing, its relaxed, often self-depricating
joviality on stage, and its dynamic repertoire. From lilting ballad to
fiery hoedown, Paisley's music encompassed the entire spectrum within
the definitive bluegrass tradition. Strong vocal duos and trios also
became a hallmark of the band's sound. Bob and Dan achieved the type of
tight harmony only heard from the greatest brother teams in country
music, and Bob Lundy's baritone added a rarely heard richness to the
Over the years Bob Paisley employed some of finest
players and singers in bluegrass music, including Joe Allison
(mandolin), Mike Bub (banjo), Don Eldreth Sr. (mandolin), Jon Glik
(fiddle), Bill Graybeal (bass), Steve Huber (banjo), Jack Leiderman
(fiddle), Jerry Lundy (fiddle), Sonny Miller (fiddle), Leroy Mumma
(fiddle), Jack Paisley (mandolin), Wes Rineer (bass), Paul Silvius
(banjo), Randy Stewart (banjo), Ward Stout (fiddle), and Richard
Underwood (banjo), in addition to those mentioned earlier.
last performed with the band on October 15, 2004. Courageous until the
end, he lost his two-year battle with cancer November 29, 2004, resting
peacefully at home. He was 73.
Bob is survived by his wife
Vivian, sons Dan, Michael, and Jim, daughters Kay and Donna, sisters
Lillian and Margaret, brothers Raymond and Vernon, 10 grandchildren,
and two great grandchildren. He also leaves behind a large circle of
friends and fans who delighted in his talent and his friendship.