Bluegrass Pioneer Wade Mainer Dies at 104
The man credited with inventing a bluegrass style that paved the way for a new era passed away earlier this week. Wade Mainer, a bluegrass picker turned auto worker turned born again picker died in his Flint Township, Mich. home, according to the funeral home that's holding his services.
Ricky Skaggs said Mainer was a big influence on his music. "Wade Mainer is the last of the old guard from the '20s and '30s to pass on," he told the Associated Press. "Mainer's Mountaineers was a huge group during that time. They influenced the Monroe Brothers, the Delmore Brothers, the Stanley Brothers, Flatt and Scruggs, Reno and Smiley and countless other music groups from the south. My dad loved them as well so I heard lots of Mainers Mountaineers in my house, too."
Mainer's Mountaineers was Mainer with his older brother, J.E. Mainer, and the duo were popular in the '30s. The younger Mainer invented a two-finger banjo picking style that proved to be the cornerstone for a bluegrass era.
After living his early life near Asheville, N.C., Mainer moved to Flint, Mich. to work for General Motors in the early '50s. He was concerned that country music was dying, but a chance meeting between Tex Ritter and one of Mainer's sons got him playing again.
"Ritter said, 'He's been dead for 15 years, ain't he?'" Mainer told the Associated Press in 1991. "A lot of people thought I was dead." He added that many of his friends had given up the traditional mountain music style for a more modern, faster-paced style. "This is the only kind of music there is that's good listening and tells a story," he said of his preferred style.
Mainer is survived by his wife Julia, three of his four sons, one daughter, two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. The AP reports that a funeral service is set for Friday at Swartz Funeral Home in Mundy Township near Flint.