Legendary bluegrass musician, Carroll icon passes away


Known as The Bluegrass Storyteller, King was a highly-regarded musician

Submitted photo The world of bluegrass music mourns alongside Carroll County as both lost one of their favorite sons Thursday with the passing of Cana native James King.


The world of bluegrass music mourns alongside Carroll County as both lost one of their favorite sons Thursday with the passing of Cana native James King.

Known in music circles as the Bluegrass Storyteller, King was known “for his matchless heartfelt ability to convey a story through song,” Bluegrass Today said in a recent article on his passing. King, 57, grew up in Cana and became well-known in bluegrass circles as a guitarist and singer with two bands, Longview – featuring legendary J.D. Crowe – and his namesake, The James King Band that formed in 1983.

James was nominated for a Grammy in 2014 for Best Bluegrass Album for “Three Chords and the Truth,” which was recorded over a five-year period ending in 2013. In 2015, James received the Society for Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America’s Masters Gold Award for Traditional Male Vocalist of the Year after winning the organization’s Best Male Vocalist award in the traditional category 12 times in 20 years. In 1997, King also won the best emerging band award from the International Bluegrass Music Association. He was inducted into the Virginia Country Music Hall of Fame in September of 2014.

“He was a very talented man who came from a family with a lot of good musicians. He had the perfect voice to sing bluegrass music, and was also a fantastic song writer,” said Phil McCraw, a fellow musician and Carroll County Supervisor for the Fancy Gap District. “James was highly regarded in the bluegrass industry and was a legendary figure in Carroll County.”

King began his career at age 16 playing gospel music at his Pentecostal Holiness church and left Cana when he was 19 years old. He experienced events in his life which mirror the often-sorrowful and tragic circumstances highlighted in bluegrass songs.

After his best friend, Wade Jones, died in a fire in 1992 at the age of 34, King wrote a song for his friend’s mother titled “Don’t Worry, Mama.” If earlier ordeals weren’t bad enough, King’s 18-year-old daughter, a resident of Amelia, died in an auto accident in December 2012. Early in his career, King was known for his work with Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys in the 1980s.

King passed away after a short stay in Lewis Gale Hospital in Salem. He had been battling liver disease for the past couple of years. King’s obituary appears in this week’s edition of The Carroll News.

Allen Worrell can be reached at 9276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN

Submitted photo
The world of bluegrass music mourns alongside Carroll County as both lost one of their favorite sons Thursday with the passing of Cana native James King.
http://thecarrollnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/web1_King.jpgSubmitted photo
The world of bluegrass music mourns alongside Carroll County as both lost one of their favorite sons Thursday with the passing of Cana native James King.
Known as The Bluegrass Storyteller, King was a highly-regarded musician
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