Sad news today as word that Dobro player Tut Taylor has passed at age 91 on Thursday morning. Known for his contributions to John Hartford’s revolutionary Aereo-Plain record, Taylor was a beloved name throughout the bluegrass and old-time music community. His unique playing style was defined by his use of a flatpick, rather than the traditional three-fingerpick method, and the unorthodox way he held the bar.
Born Robert Arthur Taylor in Milledgeville, Ga., on Nov. 20, 1923, it was rumored Taylor’s parents paid the midwife who delivered him in collard greens. He grew up in a musical family, and began playing the mandolin at an early age. “Tut” switched to Dobro in his teens after hearing the pioneering player Bashful Brother Oswald accompanying Roy Acuff on the radio.
After moving to Nashville in 1970, he became a regular there, notably helping to found the Old Time Pickin’ Parlor as well as the General Store that bore his name. In addition to working with well-known names such as Hartford, Oswald, Norman Blake and Mark O’Connor, Tut released a number of albums under his own name, including his 1963 debut on World Pacific, 12-String Dobro. (He later recorded for many other labels, including Flying Fish, Rounder and Sugar Hill.)
He was a regular performer at many festivals and clubs on the circuit for decades, and was scheduled to appear at this year’s MerleFest in North Carolina, scheduled to begin in just two weeks. Rest in peace, Tut.
— Matt Hengeveld
Tut performs at Bean Blossom in June, 2011