Bluegrass Musician Kenny Baker Passes

Acclaimed bluegrass fiddler Kenny Baker died Friday, July 8, 2011 at age 85. The Kentucky native, best known as one of Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys, influenced future generations of fiddle players with his “long-bow” style. His four-decade career included about 20 years on-and-off with Monroe, who introduced him onstage as “the greatest fiddler in bluegrass music.” Baker is an inductee of the IBMA Bluegrass Hall of Fame, and a recipient of the National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment For The Arts. At the time of his death, he was residing outside Nashville in Cottontown, Tenn.

Kenneth Baker was born June 26, 1926 in Burdine, Ky. During World War II he joined the U.S. Navy, and eventually returned home to marry Audrey Sizemore in 1946. Born into a family of fiddle players, Baker fostered his musical career while touring the South Pacific with the USO. In 1953, Don Gibson gave Baker his first break. By 1956, he had teamed with Monroe on a journey that would last intermittently until 1985. Baker helped bring Del McCoury and banjo player Bill Keith into the Blue Grass Boys.

After leaving Monroe’s band, Baker went on to play with Josh Graves, Eddie Adcock, and Jesse McReynolds.

Not surprisingly, Baker’s most popular solo album is Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe.

He is survived by wife Audrey, sons Kenneth Jr. (Holly) and Johnny Lee (Debbie), several siblings, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Services were held today July 12, 2011 at the Burdine Freewill Baptist Church in Burdine, Ky. Arrangements by Carty, Polly & Craft Funeral Home, (606) 832-2191

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Sarah Skates has worked in the music business for more than a decade and is a longtime contributor to MusicRow.

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