Shelby Eicher

The National Fiddler Hall of Fame



Shelby Eicher

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Shelby Eicher

Shelby Eicher was born in Wauseon, Ohio on April 8, 1960. Shelby’s grandmother, Alicejean Smith, was the musical driving force in his family. She played the piano and there were always music get-togethers at the house or dances to play. Alicejean had 5 uncles that were fiddlers and she thought it was time for another. Shelby received a violin for his 5th birthday.

At age 8, a violin teacher was located and Shelby had his first lesson January 9, 1969. Shortly after he started performing with his grandmother at the Longfellows Club, Kiwanis Club and country music shows around Northwestern Ohio and Southern Michigan. A few years later Shelby’s dad, Joe, began to play the bass fiddle and his mom, Caroline, took up the mandolin and they formed Shelby Eicher and the Fulton County Sandsifters.

After attending college at the Hank Thompson School of Country Music in Claremore, Oklahoma, Shelby moved to Nashville. Within a month he was hired by Grand Ole Opry star Jimmie C. Newman to play Cajun fiddle. Soon Shelby was touring with Mel McDaniel during Mel's Louisiana Saturday Night fame. Good fortune led to a contract with Hee Haw star Roy Clark. The next fifteen years would yield multiple appearances on the Tonight Show, Merv Griffin, Nashville Now, Crook and Chase, New Country and the Grand Ole Opry, plus ten seasons of Hee Haw and a full concert touring schedule. While being a member of Roy’s band, Shelby became interested in jazz which is one of the many genres he performs today. He married vocalist Janet Rutland and they have three sons Nathan, Paul and Isaac who are also accomplished musicians.

In 1996 Shelby left the road to be home with his family. Studio work has included a Spongebob Squarepants episode, a Sony PlayStation game – Dukes of Hazzard, a PBS special - Cowboys in Tall Grass, and albums with Roy D. Mercer, Hank Thompson, the Tractors, Cow Bop, J. J. Cale, Cherokee Maidens and the Tulsa Playboys featuring Vince Gill, Wanda Jackson, Riders in the Sky and others. Shelby is a clinician for Tulsa's Artists-in-the-Schools and has produced several independent CDs. In 2004 Shelby became a founding member of the National Fiddler Hall Of Fame and served many years as Education Director.

Shelby Eicher was inducted into the National Fiddler Hall of Fame in 2019.