Ricky Skaggs Surveys Genre-Spanning Career

Ricky Skaggs Surveys Genre-Spanning Career

Posted: Updated:

June 7, 2018

NASHVILLE, Tenn (RFD-TV) Ricky Skaggs woke up one long ago morning to find a mandolin in his bed, and that pretty much determined the trajectory for the rest of his life.

The genre-spanning musician, who will become the newest inductee into the Country Music Hall of Fame in October, surveyed his career from its earliest days before a crowd at CMA Fest, in Nashville, Tennessee. Over the course of that career, Skaggs has moved with equal ease among the royal families of both bluegrass and country music. That first mandolin, a gift from his father, led to “Little Ricky’s” first appearance on stage about a year later with “The Father of Bluegrass” Himself, Bill Monroe – at the ripe age of six!

That initial encounter with bluegrass greatness led to others, including Flatt & Scruggs.

While performing at a rural Kentucky carnival as a teenager, he encountered another young guitar player who sported “Harry Truman glasses” and a really great voice – it was Keith Whitley. The two instantly struck up a friendship and began performing together. Within a short time, they had caught the attention of yet another bluegrass legend, Ralph Stanley, and were invited first to become his opening act, and afterwards to join his band, the Clinch Mountain Boys.

The 70s saw Skaggs associated with acts such as The Country Gentlemen, J.D. Crowe’s New South, Boone Creek (a progressive bluegrass band formed by Skaggs himself), and Emmylou Harris. In 1980, he launched a country music career at a time when country was in the throes of an identity crisis of sorts. His neo-traditionalist approach reinvigorated the genre while also putting it back in touch with its roots, and led Chet Atkins to credit Ricky Skaggs with single-handedly saving country music. He was invited to join the Grand Ole Opry in 1982, the youngest ever so-invited at that time.

Skaggs’ wife Sharon – the couple will celebrate 37 years of wedlock in August – comes from a renowned bluegrass family herself, The Whites, and the two often perform together. 

To get a far more detailed look at Ricky Skagg’s legendary career, check out his 2014 autobiography “Kentucky Traveler: My Life in Music.”

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