FREDERICKSBURG, Va. (CelebrityAccess) John Starling, 79, one of the biggest names in bluegrass and considered one of the best singers of the genre, died in Fredericksburg, Va., May 3.
Starling, a founding member of the “new grass” act Seldom Scene and a member of the Bluegrass Hall of Fame, was the last surviving member of one of the best vocal trios in bluegrass, founding the band alongside John Duffey and Mike Auldridge. The trio was known for songs like “Wait A Minute,” “Body and Soul” and “Out Among The Stars.” The band also included surviving members Ben Eldridge and Tom Gray.
Starling had been hospice care since February, according to Bluegrass Today.
“When I spoke with John Duffey in the late spring of 1995, I had been listening to and admiring the music of the Seldom Scene for over twenty years,” Dudley Connell, who took on Starling’s role in Seldom Scene, told the media outlet. “At the time, I didn’t know John Starling personally, but Duffey often said that John Starling admired the lead singing of Carter Stanley. I had no idea that Starling and I shared that in common. I can hear it now. Listen to his take on The Fields Have Turned Brown. Hear what I mean? It’s country soul.
“Over the past twenty-something years of standing in his place, I soon realized that I could stand in his spot on stage, but no one was ever going to fill his shoes. John Starling was a vocal stylist; he made every song he sang his own. John Starling once told me that I ‘brought the blues into the Seldom Scene.’ My response to him, ‘well, you brought everything else.’
“The Scene had a reunion show at the old Red Fox Inn a few years ago, and while John was singing on the small makeshift stage, I stood behind the curtain with Emmylou and listened to him sing. For a while, we didn’t say a word to each other. Finally, Emmylou said to me, ‘John is still one of my favorite singers.’ My response to her, ‘John is irreplaceable.’ What I didn’t say was, there will likely be other great singers, but there will only be one John Starling and he will be missed.”