REIDSVILLE, N.C. — The International Bluegrass Music Association announced Christmas morning that Danville native and renowned bluegrass guitar legend Tony Rice died at the age of 69.
Rice was born in Danville June 8, 1951, and died at his home in Reidsville, North Carolina.
“Sometime during Christmas morning while making his coffee, our dear friend and guitar hero Tony Rice passed from this life and made his swift journey to his heavenly home,” said Ricky Skaggs, a fellow bluegrass icon who recorded with Rice and described him as the most influential guitarist in the last half-century.
Rice suffered from muscle-tension dysphonia since 1994, rendering him unable to sing and hindering his ability to speak. In his retirement, however, in 2013, Rice was inducted into International Bluegrass Music Awards Hall of Fame.
“He loved hearing the next generation players play his licks," Skaggs said.
Rice released his first record, Guitar, in 1973, and continued to produce music until the 2000s.
Folk singer Mary Chapin Carpenter said in a statement, “He [Rice] was a musical hero and a genius guitarist who literally changed how people imagined an acoustic guitar could be played. When he recorded one of my songs, I could have quit there and then and been happy with my lot.”
Rice also joined fellow legends Jerry Garcia and David Grisman in 1993 to record The Pizza Tapes.
No details on the funeral have been publicized as of yet.