Eddie Adcock

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Eddie Adcock
Background information
Born (1938-06-21) June 21, 1938 (age 77)
Origin Scottsville, Virginia, United States
Genres Bluegrass
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Banjo
Years active 1953–present

Eddie Adcock (born June 21, 1938 in Scottsville, Virginia)[1] is an American banjoist. His professional career as a 5-string banjoist began in 1953 when he joined Smokey Graves & His Blue Star Boys, who had a regular show at a radio station in Crewe, VA. His exposure with Graves led to jobs with other musicians, including Mac Wiseman, Bill Harrell, and Buzz Busby. Between 1953 and 1957, he floated between different bands. Bill Monroe offered a job to Adcock in 1957, and he played with the Blue Grass Boys until Monroe had to let him go because the band simply wasn't earning enough money to employ him. Adcock returned to working day jobs, but that was short-lived. After he started working in a sheet metal factory, Jim Cox, John Duffey, and Charlie Waller asked him to join their new band, The Country Gentlemen.[2] He now performs almost exclusively with his wife Martha and calls Lebanon, Tennessee his home. Eddie belongs to a number of business organizations, including IBMA and the Folk Alliance. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Tennessee Banjo Institute. He and Martha also created and ran (off and on) Adcock Audio, a large, state-of-the-art sound company until 2006.

Early years[edit]

He bought his first banjo as a child and began performing with his brother Frank shortly afterward. The duo would sing in local churches and radio stations based in the nearby Charlottesville. He left home when he was 14 years old and supported himself through semi-professional boxing. For the next seven years, he boxed and played music at nights. A few years later, he began racing cars. As a racer, Adcock racked up 34 straight wins with his car, which he named Mr. Banjo; he also had set two track records at Manassas, Virginia. Not only did he box and race, he also performed various blue-collar jobs to pay the rent. All the time, he played music at night.[3]

With the Country Gentlemen[edit]

The Country Gentlemen originated in Washington, D.C.. The band’s original members were Charlie Waller on guitar and lead vocals, John Duffey on mandolin and tenor vocals, Bill Emerson on banjo and baritone vocals, and Larry Lahey on bass. Soon after Adcock's arrival the band settled into a somewhat permanent lineup consisting of Waller, Duffey, Eddie Adcock on banjo, and Tom Gray on bass.

Then Eddie met Martha[edit]

In 1970 Eddie quit The Country Gentlemen and moved to California, where he formed a country-rock band called The Clinton Special. While he performed with the group he used the pseudonym Clinton Codack. The band recorded only one single, "Just as You Are I Love You"/"Blackberry Fence," which was released on MGM Records. In 1973 he met Martha Hearon[4] whom he would marry three years later. They have remained partners in music and life for over three decades. The dynamic duo of Eddie and Martha Adcock has become known as “the biggest little band in Bluegrass”. Cashbox magazine and Billboard magazine have both named them “one of the Bluegrass circuit's top acts”. Eddie and Martha now concentrate on performing as a duo, as well as doing some concerts with Tom Gray and a few shows with Adcock-Gaudreau-Waller & Gray: (The Country Gentlemen Reunion Band), and on producing themselves and others both outside and in-house at their own SunFall Studio. Eddie and Martha AKA The Adcocks have appeared on Austin City Limits, Ernest Tubb's Midnite Jamboree, TNN's 'Nashville Now' and Wildhorse Saloon, Grassroots To Bluegrass, and a host of NPR specials, as well as syndicated, Internet, and local TV and radio shows worldwide. Their video Dog aired on TNN, CMT, and CNN. They have released a number of popular recordings, appearing on several bluegrass, Americana, college, rock, and country charts, and have recorded with quite a few other artists as well. They currently record for the Pinecastle Records label.


In October 2008, concerns about hand-tremors, which could have compromised his performing career, led to Eddie having deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. A local anaesthetic was used during the surgery, and he was encouraged to play banjo during the procedure in order to check the effectiveness of the treatment.[5] During the brain implantation surgery, the patient is kept conscious so they may assist the doctors in properly placing the leads. They do this by experiencing its immediate effects on their fine motor skills. In Eddie’s case, this would be his right hand picking the banjo. Eddie has related that this was not an easy process to experience.

"I came up in music the hard way and learned to be a trouper fast. Some of those early days were pretty rough, and I’ve been stomped, cut and kicked; but I never went through hell like this — it was the most painful thing I’ve ever endured. And it was risky. But I did it for a reason: I’m looking forward to being able to play music the way I did years ago prior to getting this tremor. It means that much to me. I’m far from being done!"

Martha was the first to notice the tremor. "When I first noticed, his skills were not the same and we were trying to figure out what was going on," she said. "It was distressing because this has been his whole life."