Del McCoury Biography

Delano Floyd McCoury, 1 February 1939, Bakersville, North Carolina, USA. Guitarist and vocalist Del McCoury is one of the most celebrated keepers of the traditional bluegrass sound, and has enjoyed a long career spanning over five decades.

Raised in Bakersville and Glen Rock, Pennsylvania, McCoury began his music career in the 50s as a banjo player with Keith Daniels And The Blue Ridge Ramblers before moving on to Jack Cooke’s Virginia Mountain Boys. The latter unit was hired to play with bluegrass legend Bill Monroe in 1963, leading to an invite for McCoury to play with Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys. He played guitar and sang lead vocals with Monroe for a short while, making his first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry during the same period. After leaving Monroe in 1964, McCoury worked with bluegrass groups the Golden State Boys (based in California) and the Shady Valley Boys, before launching the Dixie Pals in 1967 with fellow bluegrass players Bill Emerson, Wayne Yates and Billy Baker. McCoury and the Dixie Pals recorded several albums during the 60s and 70s, earning a solid reputation on the bluegrass scene and gigging regularly. Despite this McCoury was forced to work in construction and logging to raise his family and help keep his music career going. His sons Ronnie (mandolin) and Robbie (banjo) began performing with their father during the 80s.

McCoury’s career began to blossom at the end of the 80s, with a new generation of country artists citing his influence on their music. He renamed his backing band the Del McCoury Band in 1987 and began recording for the leading roots label Rounder Records. Notable album releases during this period included Don’t Stop The Music (1988), A Deeper Shade Of Blue (1993) and The Cold Hard Facts (1996), with McCoury mixing traditional and progressive bluegrass styles to great effect. McCoury also recorded with Mac Wiseman and Doc Watson, and in 1999 recorded a superb bluegrass set with Steve Earle (The Mountain). At the end of the 90s he landed a recording contract with Ricky Skaggs’ Ceili Records, making his debut for the label with 1999’s The Family and recording a follow-up in 2001. Thereafter, McCoury began issuing albums through his McCoury Music imprint. McCoury became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in October 2003. Three years later he won his first Grammy Award with the 2005 album The Company We Keep.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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