Tony Rice Biography

8 June 1951, Danville, Virginia, USA. Although he is primarily known for his bluegrass recordings, over the course of four decades Rice has established himself as one of the leading acoustic guitarists in any genre of music. Raised in California, Rice was introduced to bluegrass by his father and grew up playing alongside his brothers Larry, Ron and Wyatt. In 1970, Rice relocated to Kentucky where he played with Lonnie Peerce’s Bluegrass Alliance and then J.D. Crowe’s New South. The latter unit introduced Rice to a world beyond traditional bluegrass, and he played an instrumental part in the recording of their seminal 1975 release, J.D. Crowe & The New South. Rice branched out into solo work in the mid-70s, but more importantly worked with mandolin player David Grisman in an instrumental quintet that broke down the barriers of traditional country music by blending in elements of jazz and classical styles.

In 1979, Rice formed the Tony Rice Unit and relaunched his solo career with two excellent but contrasting albums, the guitar-orientated Acoustics and the vocal outing Manzanita. At the start of the 80s Rice teamed up with Crowe, Doyle Lawson, Bobby Hicks, and Todd Phillips in the Bluegrass Album Band. This unit went on to record six albums of bluegrass standards over the ensuing 15 years. Rice balanced his work with the Bluegrass Album Band with his continuing involvement with the Tony Rice Unit, an outlet for his more experimental leanings. He has also recorded with traditional guitar virtuoso Norman Blake, teamed up with Grisman on 1994’s stunning Tone Poems, and released a series of traditional albums with Chris Hillman, Herb Pedersen, and his brother Larry. In 1989, Tony and Larry teamed up with Ron and Wyatt to record an album as the Rice Brothers. The brothers reunited five years later on a second set. Rice has indulged his singer-songwriter leanings over the years on albums such as Cold On The Shoulder and Me & My Guitar, and in 1996 recorded an entire album of Gordon Lightfoot songs.

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

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