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Wade Mainer, Bluegrass Banjo Pioneer, Dies at 104

Banjo Player (Jeff Gentner/Getty)

Can you name a rock song with some banjo playing in it?

Chances are, that banjo player was somehow influenced by Wade Mainer. The bluegrass banjo pioneer died of congestive heart failure on September 12th at the age of 104.

Mainer is sometimes called the “Grandfather of Bluegrass” because he helped bridge the gap between old-time mountain music and bluegrass.

Growing up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, Mainer is also known for inventing a two-finger banjo picking style.

Taylor Swift playing the banjo (Ethan Miller/Getty)

In the 1930’s, Mainer was part of The Mountaineers and later formed his own band, Sons of the Mountaineers.

Steve Martin playing banjo (Noel Vasquez/Getty)

He was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship in 1987 by President Ronald Reagan for his contributions to American music.

Some modern day banjo players you might recognize include Steve Martin and Bela Fleck.

In rock and roll, the Eagles included banjo parts on several of their early hits played by Bernie Leadon, “Squeeze Box” by The Who features Pete Townshend on the banjo and on Matchbox Twenty’s song “Unwell,” Kyle Cook picks the banjo parts.

Guitarist Joe Satriani, now with Chickenfoot, also is known to play the banjo, as is Rod Stewart.

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