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.
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,” 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.