NASHVILLE (CelebrityAccess) Few figures in bluegrass left as much behind as first-generation bluegrass musician Curly Seckler who had turned 98 years old on Christmas day (Dec. 25), and died peacefully just after noon in his sleep.
His percussive mandolin chop and tenor singing are considered the cornerstones of the bluegrass genre.
“In my opinion, the greatest tenor singer of all time,” country singer/songwriter Marty Stuart has said of Seckler, whose musical career began in 1935.
From 1949 to 1962 Seckler toured and recorded with Flatt & Scruggs’ Foggy Mountain Boys. Seckler recorded over 130 songs with the band, including some of Flatt & Scruggs’ most enduring material as “Roll in My Sweet Baby’s Arms,” “Salty Dog Blues” and “I’ll Go Stepping Too.”
After Flatt & Scruggs disbanded in 1969, Seckler went to work with Lester Flatt & The Nashville Grass in 1971. After Flatt died in 1979, Seckler kept The Nashville Grass going more than a decade further along with Willis Spears who sang in a similar style.
As a solo artist Seckler recorded several albums for Copper Creek Records in 2005 and 2007. He also wrote a number of bluegrass classics, including “No Mother Or Dad,” “We Can’t Be Darlings Anymore,” and “That Old Book Of Mine.”
His last television appearance came in 2011 (seven months after undergoing triple bypass surgery following a heart attack) on “The Marty Stuart Show.”
By 2012, however, health issues made it difficult for Seckler to continue performing.
For all his accomplishments, Seckler had a difficult life that included multiple marriages, plus a stretch when his children were in an orphanage.
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. There was neither running water nor electricity in the family home, but there was music: Calvin played the autoharp, Carrie the guitar and organ.
He used Curly Seckler as his stage name from the time he and his brothers performed as the Yodeling Rangers in the mid-1930s. He also did stints with a number of top bluegrass groups as the Stanley Brothers, Jim & Jesse, Mac Wiseman, Charlie Monroe, and the Sauceman Brothers.
He was inducted into the IBMA Hall of Fame in 2004 and the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in 2010.