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Bluegrass Innovator and Pioneer George Shuffler has Died

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George Shuffler Bluegrass Hall of Fame Recipient, George Shuffler passed away yesterday, April 7th, just shy of his 89th birthday. Shuffler was born in Valdese, North Carolina on April 15, 1925. Affectionately known as "The Third Stanley Brother" performed on many of bluegrass music's most historic recordings. George toured 20 years with the Stanley Brothers where he developed his unique cross picking guitar style that has been a big influence to many musicians. He was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Hall of Fame in 2011 and was a recipient of the North Carolina Heritage Award in 2007. In 2011, Shuffler was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Association's Hall of Fame along with Del McCoury. George Shuffler’s influences in bluegrass are as an innovative bass player, guitar stylist and featured vocalist and humorist, primarily as a sideman in some of the most important bands in the music’s history.

Many bluegrass artists just released a tribute album The Boy from Valdese - A Tribute to George Shuffler honoring one of bluegrass music's innovative pioneers. The tribute recording of the title song features old friends and long-time collaborators Buddy Melton (Lead Vocals) and Milan Miller (Guitar, Baritone Vocals), with special guests Terry Baucom (Banjo), Carl Jackson (Tenor Vocals), Ron Shuffler (Upright Bass), and Adam Steffey (Mandolin). Shuffler was one of the most beloved and influential sidemen of Bluegrass’ first generation. His contributions to the bluegrass music include his “walking” style of playing the bass, and even more significant, his cross-picking style of guitar playing.

In 2011, Shuffler was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Association's Hall of Fame along with Del McCoury. George Shuffler’s influences in bluegrass are as an innovative bass player, guitar stylist and featured vocalist and humorist, primarily as a sideman in some of the most important bands in the music’s history. This video includes one of Shuffler's stylistic breaks.

The IBMA noted...

"Shuffler grew up in a large family near Valdese, North Carolina, learning his first guitar chords at age 10. Young George listened to many of the groups performing live on various 50,000-watt radio stations around the country, and Merle Travis was his idol. In the early 1940s Shuffler was working in a local string band with a regular $20-a-week job at a bakery. Filling in as bass player with Charlie & Danny Bailey and the Happy Valley Boys at a theatre and several other venues in Granite Falls, N.C., Shuffler accepted a $60 a week job with the Baileys and left with them for Nashville and The Grand Ole Opry, his first professional job.

After the Baileys quit the business, Shuffler worked with a comedy team for a while, returned to Valdese and got married and worked with several bands playing guitar and singing. Carter Stanley called Shuffler on December 28, 1950 and said he and Ralph were leaving Bristol to move to WVLK in Versailles, Kentucky, and he asked Shuffler to join the Stanley Brothers to play bass—an offer George accepted. Following WVLK, Shuffler worked with The Stanley Brothers in numerous markets. His “walking style” of bass playing, introduced on the Stanley Brothers’ 1953 Mercury Recordings, would imprint itself on a number of younger players, including Hall of Fame member Tom Gray. Primarily a bass player, Shuffler was in and out of the Stanley group many times until the early 1960s, when it got down to just Carter, Ralph and George.

Inspired by Bill Napier, Shuffler perfected his signature style of cross-picking that would be widely emulated. Following Carter Stanley’s death December 1, 1966, Shuffler stayed on with Ralph for several months. He then worked with Don Reno and Bill Harrell until 1969, recording several albums with them on bass. For a number of years he also led The Shuffler Family gospel group, which recorded more than a half dozen albums.

Bluegrass artists and fans have shown a great outpouring of love for Shuffler since his passing was announced. Several performed with him and others learned from him. Always cheerful, Shuffler was a gifted artist who love the music and its people. The bluegrass people also loved him. He will be remembered for his contributions to the music he loved so much.

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