Curly Seckler

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Curly Seckler
Birth nameJohn Ray Sechler
Born(1919-12-25)December 25, 1919
China Grove, North Carolina
DiedDecember 27, 2017(2017-12-27) (aged 98)
Nashville, Tennessee
Occupation(s)Musician, vocalist
Instrumentsvocals, guitar, mandolin, tenor banjo
Years active1930s–2017
Associated actsNashville Grass, Ramblin' Tommy Scott

John Ray Sechler, known as Curly Seckler, (December 25, 1919 – December 27, 2017) was an American bluegrass musician. He played with Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs in their band the Foggy Mountain Boys from 1949 to 1962, among other major bluegrass acts during his lengthy career in music.

Early years[edit]

Born to Carrie and Calvin Sechler in China Grove, North Carolina, on December 25, 1919, "Curly" was destined to have a huge contribution on Bluegrass music.[1] In his youth and formative years, Seckler learned to play music from his parents. His father, Calvin, played old time fiddle, harmonica, and autoharp, while his mother taught him how to play the organ. Seckler like most of his local contemporaries, was forced into a life of labor, tirelessly working in a local cotton mill for sustenance with his brothers. However, this laborious sentencing did not hamper his musical development, Seckler found time to keep up his love for music, expanding his musical knowledge by picking up the five string banjo. Seckler began learning the instrument from local musician, Happy Trexler.[2]


In the early years of his professional career, Seckler accompanied his brothers George and Duard, playing the tenor banjo and providing vocal harmonies. The group was called the Yodeling Rangers and were propelled to local stardom in 1935, when they were invited to perform daily on the radio in Salisbury, North Carolina.[2] With a fresh new name, the Trail Riders, soon began playing steadily throughout the south-eastern US. Soon the word got around, the Trail Riders had some of the finest musicians around and this notoriety caught the eye of Charlie Monroe, brother of Bill Monroe, and former guitarist of the acclaimed Monroe Brothers. After their breakup, Charlie was looking for new musicians to play with on the emerging Bluegrass circuit. He proposed that Seckler join him on tour. The nineteen-year-old agreed and received twenty dollars a week.[2]

Seckler continued to enjoy success on the Bluegrass touring circuit and in 1949 joined Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs, and the rest of the Foggy Mountain Boys band. In this new ensemble, Seckler continued to sing tenor harmonies, but switched to the mandolin. During this time, he developed the "Chop" rhythm technique which helped to propel the rhythm section of The Foggy Mountain Boys sound. Seckler stayed with the Foggy Mountain Boys until 1962. Upon Lester Flatt's death in 1979, Seckler returned to Bluegrass as leader of the Nashville Grass band. Seckler held this position until his retirement in 1994 ( Seckler AP).[3]

Later years and death[edit]

The International Bluegrass Music Association honored Seckler in 2004 by inducting him into its International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame;[4] Seckler was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in 2010.[5] His release of "Sixty Years of Bluegrass with My Friends" in 2005 on the Copper Creek label solidified Seckler's place as one of the pioneers of the genre and steward of customs and traditions. Throughout his career, Seckler played with Jim and Jesse McReynolds, Mac Wiseman, the Stanley Brothers, the Nashville Grass, Doyle Lawson, and many others. Seckler died in his sleep on December 27, 2017, just two days after his 98th birthday.[6][7]

Further reading[edit]

  • Crawford, Richard (2001). America's Musical Life. A History. New York, New York: Norton & Company. pp. 743–734. ISBN 978-0-393-32726-7.
  • Goldsmith, Thomas (2004). The Bluegrass Reader. Illinois: University Of Illinois Press. pp. 48, 73, 74, 107. ISBN 978-0-252-07365-6.
  • Stanley, Ralph. "Man Of Constant Sorrow" Gotham Books. 2009. ISBN 978-1-592-40425-4
  • Associated Press. "Curly Seckler". Retrieved September 28, 2011.


  1. ^ Parsons, Penny. 2016. Foggy Mountain Troubadour: The Life and Music of Curly Seckler. Champaign: University of Illinois Press.
  2. ^ a b c Rovi, Margaret Reges. "Curly Seckler Biography". AMG. Retrieved September 28, 2011.
  3. ^ associatedpress[full citation needed]
  4. ^ "International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame". International Bluegrass Music Association. Archived from the original on 29 December 2017. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
  5. ^ "2010 Inductees". North Carolina Music Hall of Fame. Retrieved September 10, 2012.
  6. ^ "Bluegrass Pioneer Curly Seckler has Passed Away - Cybergrass Bluegrass Music News". Retrieved 28 December 2017.
  7. ^ "Bluegrass Hall of Famer played alongside Flatt & Scruggs, remembered as 'unsung hero'". Retrieved 28 December 2017.

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