Scotty Stoneman

The National Fiddler Hall of Fame



Scotty Stoneman

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Scotty Stoneman (Born August 4, 1932; Died March 4, 1973)

Scotty Stoneman made his mark as a world-class fiddler with many performances, recordings, and his own showy style of fiddling, with sought-after licks heard in many a fiddler’s repertoire today. Peter Rowan dubbed Stoneman the Jimi Hendrix of the violin, and Jerry Garcia called him the “bluegrass Charlie Parker”

Scotty was one of 23 children of Ernest “Pop” Stoneman, who was a multi-instrumentalist from a musical family, and Hattie Frost, daughter of a luthier and raised in a musical family herself. Six of these 23 children emerged as performers in the eventually famous Stoneman Family, including Scotty on fiddle, and his sisters Donna on mandolin and Roni on banjo, known for her years on Hee Haw. Scotty Stoneman became widely known as a member of this performing family, traveling primarily in the southeast, pioneering their brand of country music. Pop Stoneman could play just about any instrument well, Hattie played banjo and fiddle, and their children followed in their musical footsteps. Pop Stoneman recorded “The Sinking of the Titanic,” his original composition, which sold more than a million copies, and he was signed to Victor Records in 1927.

The Depression dampened the market for their brand of music and the family relocated to the Washington, D.C. area in 1932, the year Scotty Stoneman came along as one of the last four of the couple’s many children. In 1947, with a young teenage Scotty playing the fiddle, the Stoneman Family won a talent contest at Constitution Hall, which gave them six weeks of local tv appearances and plenty of attention.

After serving his country for four years, Scotty joined talented guitarist and vocalist Jimmy Case, and with two of Scotty’s siblings, they became the Bluegrass Champs, landing reliable gigs almost instantly. In 1956, The Bluegrass Champs, with Porter Church added into the group, won a competition on Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts. This tv exposure rocketed Scotty and company into the limelight, now doing shows with stars like Patsy Cline, Grandpa Jones, and Roy Clark, and also earning them several regular radio gigs. In 1960, they were based in California, where they recorded for World Pacific, home to many talented young bluegrass players and folk-rock performers.

By the mid-’60s, Scotty was a five-time national fiddle champion, astounding his peers with his expertise, and his professional musicianship peaked around this time. He played with the Kentucky Colonels for some time, and in the early ‘70s, he enjoyed performing with his wife, Mary Madison Stoneman, in a group which also included a young Marty Stuart. Stoneman died in 1973 at the early age of 40. Stoneman’s performances on stage were riveting and without abandon. He was a dynamic performer who knew how to sell his brand of fiddling, and is recognized today as a great in the music business.

Scotty Stoneman was inducted into The National Fiddler Hall of Fame in 2019.