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Bluegrass Giant George Shuffler Dead at 88

George Shuffler

Bluegrass pioneer George Shuffler died at the age of 88 on Monday (April 7).

Shuffler — born in Valdese, N.C. on April 15, 1925 — was known as ‘The Third Stanley Brother,’ because he toured with the Stanley Brothers (Carter and Ralph) for 20 years. It was during that time he developed his trademark cross picking guitar style that has influenced many musicians, making an enduring contribution to bluegrass.

Crosspicking enabled him to produce rhythmic and melodic elements simultaneously. In an earlier interview, Shuffler told Raleigh’s News and Observer, “We were doing these old, slow, drawn-out mournful songs. I tried Merle Travis-style guitar and Mother Maybelle Carter-style guitar, but single-string leads just were not getting it. So I tried that two notes down, one up, crossing over strings. At first, Carter did not like it. ‘Is that all you do?’ he asked. ‘It’s all I want to do,’ I said. And after it started selling, I could not do it enough to satisfy him.”

A Bluegrass Hall of Fame inductee, Shuffler made a mark in bluegrass as an innovative bass player, guitar stylist, featured vocalist, and humorist, acting as the sideman in some of the most important bands in bluegrass history. The musician also received the North Carolina Heritage Award in 2007.

Even though Shuffler has now passed, his impact on bluegrass and guitar playing will endure. He was married to wife Sue — known as “Momma” — for many years.

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