The tributes are pouring in following the death of legendary bluegrass guitarist Tony Rice.
“Tony Rice was the single most influential acoustic guitar player in the last 50 years,” Skaggs, who performed and recorded with Rice, wrote on Facebook. “Many if not all of the Bluegrass guitar players of today would say that they cut their teeth on Tony Rice’s music.”
The bluegrass giant, known for his innovative and elegant flatpicking, released dozens of albums dating back to the early 1970s and played alongside such major artists as Dolly Parton and Jerry Garcia.
Rice received numerous awards over the decades, including a Grammy in 1993 for best country instrumental performance and was a six-time recipient of the International Bluegrass Music Association’s (IBMA) guitar player of the year honor.
In this ass-kicker of a year, it's a significant loss: Tony Rice, who never played a bad note in his life, left the planet yesterday. Bluegrass music has an enormous vacancy. https://t.co/1Sp5hw99vp
— rosanne cash (@rosannecash) December 27, 2020
His death was confirmed in a statement from the IBMA.
Cash tweeted that Rice’s death leaves an “enormous vacancy” in the bluegrass community and that the guitarist “never played a bad note in his life.”
Chesney, meanwhile, credited Rice as an inspiration from his childhood and recalled watching the late musician perform at a past IBMA festival in Kentucky.
Tony Rice inspired so many including a kid like me from East Tennessee who was in awe of the way he sang and played Me And My Guitar. I’ll never forget seeing him sing that at the IBMA Bluegrass Festival in Owensboro, Ky. It’s printed in my brain forever! Rest In Peace Tony Rice. pic.twitter.com/AZPGZpyCMN
— Kenny Chesney (@kennychesney) December 27, 2020
“Tony Rice inspired so many including a kid like me from East Tennessee who was in awe of the way he sang and played Me And My Guitar,” the country superstar tweeted. “I’ll never forget seeing him sing that at the IBMA Bluegrass Festival in Owensboro, Ky. It’s printed in my brain forever!”
And Womack called Rice “one of my very favorites” in a heartfelt tweet. “I’ve gotten so much enjoyment over the years from listening to his records, bootleg cassette tapes & finding gems on YouTube (look for the @MerleFest stuff),” she wrote. “Thank you Tony for the music.”
See more social media tributes to Rice below.
Aw, Tony Rice. A name I’ve known my whole life. A great musician. https://t.co/33lBEgZiPU
— Steve Martin (@SteveMartinToGo) December 27, 2020
Tony Rice was the king of the flatpicked flattop guitar. His influence cannot possibly be overstated. If you aren’t familiar with his music, please look it up. I don’t know if a person can make anything more beautiful. #RIPTonyRice
— Jason Isbell (@JasonIsbell) December 27, 2020
Rest In Peace guitar hero Tony Rice ….
— The Oak Ridge Boys (@oakridgeboys) December 27, 2020
I’m beyond heartbroken to hear about the passing of Tony Rice. No one has had a more profound impact on my musical world. His playing, singing, writing, and arranging broke the bluegrass mold and will eternally attest to the fact that music can take you anywhere, from anywhere.
— Chris Thile (@christhile) December 27, 2020
Very sad news. I’ve always appreciated #tonyrice, and listened often to this tune, “Me & My Guitar” which I admit borrowing a few licks from (despite bluegrass being far from my main genre). 2020 just won’t go quietly. RIP https://t.co/xaj4mGTuD1 https://t.co/EPRsz4tQT3 pic.twitter.com/uKkglF2mPR
— Alex Skolnick (@AlexSkolnick) December 27, 2020
RIP Tony Rice
— Harry Shearer (@theharryshearer) December 27, 2020
Tony Rice made something incredibly difficult look incredibly easy. A bluegrass and Americana music icon. Rest In Peace. pic.twitter.com/CWBYFCQNi7
— Joe Bonamassa (Official) (@JBONAMASSA) December 27, 2020
Cool, elegant, badass, classy.. always in the same mood as that old D-28. Thank you Tony ♥️ RIP legend pic.twitter.com/jGspkkZ13j
— Billy Strings (@BillyStrings) December 26, 2020
I’ve listened and cried all evening like so many others… heartbroken by the passing of Tony Rice. 💔 His music has influenced me as much as anyone I could ever imagine… from the moment I heard Church Street Blues at 8 years old till now. This one really hurts. RIP Tony 😭
— Sierra Hull (@sierrahull) December 27, 2020
So sad to hear of the passing of Tony Rice pic.twitter.com/qqEWCcPPYg
— Mike Gordon (@mike_gordon) December 27, 2020
We’re gonna miss you Tony Rice. Never equaled…
— Béla Fleck (@belafleckbanjo) December 26, 2020
“Sometime during Christmas morning while making his coffee, our dear friend and guitar hero Tony Rice passed from this life and made his swift journey to his heavenly home…” – Ricky Skaggs
For full quote: https://t.co/OlLIr8fsmB
Photo credit: Jeremy M. Lange pic.twitter.com/lkMm40idiP
— Ricky Skaggs (@RickySkaggs) December 26, 2020
Tony Rice… One of my very favorites. I’ve gotten so much enjoyment over the years from listening to his records, bootleg cassette tapes & finding gems on YouTube (look for the @MerleFest stuff). Thank you Jill Douglas for introducing me. ❤️ Thank you Tony for the music. pic.twitter.com/MyEtPqGZ5j
— Lee Ann Womack (@leeannwomack) December 27, 2020
So sad to learn of the passing of Tony Rice. He was the common thread on so many records that inspired me to play & are still my favorites. He lifted up his fellow musicians like no other. No one ever sounded better than when they had TR at their side. https://t.co/KxMrr8Rpid
— Noam Pikelny (@NoamPikelny) December 27, 2020