Roscoe Holcomb

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Roscoe Holcomb
Roscoe Holcomb in 1962
Background information
Birth name Roscoe Halcomb
Born (1912-09-05)September 5, 1912
Origin Daisy, Kentucky, USA
Died February 1, 1981(1981-02-01) (aged 68)
Genres Bluegrass, country, folk, gospel, old-time music
Occupation(s) Miner, construction worker, Farmer, Musician
Instruments Banjo, Guitar, Harmonica
Years active 1958–1978

Roscoe Holcomb, (born as Roscoe Halcomb[1] September 5, 1912 – died February 1, 1981) was an American singer, banjo player, and guitarist from Daisy, Kentucky. A prominent figure in Appalachian folk music, Holcomb was the inspiration for the term "high, lonesome sound," coined by folklorist and friend John Cohen. Roscoe is known as the "King of the High lonesome sound." The term is now used to describe bluegrass singing, although Holcomb was not, strictly speaking, a bluegrass performer.

Holcomb's repertoire included old-time music, hymns, traditional music and blues ballads. He was a competent harmonica player, fiddle player and sang many of his most memorable songs a cappella.

Holcomb sang in a falsetto deeply informed by the Old Regular Baptist vocal tradition. Bob Dylan, a fan of Holcomb, described his singing as possessing "an untamed sense of control." He was also admired by the Stanley Brothers, and Eric Clapton cited Holcomb as his favorite country musician.

A coal miner and farmer for much of his life, Holcomb was not recorded until 1958, after which his career as a professional musician was bolstered by the folk revival in the 1960s. Holcomb gave his last live performance in 1978. He lived a self-described hard life working and suffered many injuries that affected him later in life. Suffering from asthma and emphysema as a result of working in coal mines, he died in 1981 at the age of 68.

Holcomb is buried at the Arch Halcomb Cemetery in Leatherwood, Kentucky. His tombstone bears his given name of Halcomb rather than Holcomb.[2]


His discography includes:[3]


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