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Bluegrass Guitarist James Alan Shelton Dead at 53

James Alan Shelton
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Grammy-winning bluegrass guitarist James Alan Shelton has died.

Just over a month ago, Shelton was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer of the liver and pancreas, and he passed away Tuesday (June 3) at the age of 53.

For 20 years, the talented guitarist played guitar and served as a road manager for Dr. Ralph Stanley’s Clinch Mountain Boys band. Born in Kingsport, Tenn. and raised on a tobacco farm close to Gate City, Va., Shelton grew up listening to such artists as Stanley Brothers, the Carter Family, Bill Monroe, and Flatt & Scruggs.

When he was 12 years old, the artist began playing guitar and banjo, aspiring to play like the late George Shuffler, who passed away in April. His talents led him to the Clinch Mountain Boys, and he played his first show with them on March 4, 1994 in Northfield, Minn.

The rest, as they say, is history. He released 10 albums under his own name in addition to his notable work on Stanley and Jim Lauderdale’s ‘Lost in the Lonesome Pines,’ which earned Shelton a Grammy in 2003.

His album ‘Half Moon Bay’ was nominated for International Bluegrass Music Association’s Instrumental Album of the Year in 2005, which was quite the honor and a testament to his influence in bluegrass’s old time mountain style.

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