Josh Graves (September 27, 1927 Tellico Plains, Monroe County, Tennessee – September 30, 2006), was an American bluegrass musician. Also known by the nicknames "Buck," and "Uncle Josh," he is credited with introducing the resonator guitar (commonly known under the trade name of Dobro) into bluegrass music shortly after joining Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys in 1955.
Born Burkett "Buck" Graves, and raised in Tellico Plains, Tennessee,. His father, who was a blacksmith, played harmonica, and his wife played the organ. Josh was only nine when he heard Cliff Carlisle of the Carlisle Brothers, performing a few Jimmie Rodgers tunes with the Dobro. Graves loved the sound and became close friends with Carlisle.
|Stoney Cooper, Wilma Lee & Josh|
Graves invented the "Uncle Josh" persona as a teen while working as an announcer for Knoxville radio station WROL, and upon joining the Pierce Brothers in 1942 he served as both a guitarist and comedian. Later he played with Esco Hankins and Mac Wiseman before becoming a part of the Wheeling Jamboree with Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper. Graves remained with Wilma and Stoney through the mid-'50s. During a performance at the Grand Ole Opry, Graves made a big impression upon Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs who invited him to join their Foggy Mountain Boys. Initially he was a bass player, but about a month after joining, Scruggs and Graves worked out a way to use Scrugg's innovative three-finger banjo picking style on the Dobro.
In the late '50s, acoustic instruments were out of favor, due to the popularity of rock & roll. The survival of the Dobro as an important instrument in country can largely be attributed to Graves, who alternately electrified audiences with a red-hot picking style and then cooled them down with a bluesy, sweet mellowness. Graves remained a primary member of the Foggy Mountain Boys until they disbanded in 1969. Afterward, he joined Flatt's Nashville Grass and did session work on the side. In 1971, he began playing with Earl Scruggs Review; three years later, he decided to go solo.
Graves' first solo effort was Alone at Last on Epic. He also continued session work , playing with artists like Charlie McCoy, J.J. Cale, Steve Young, and Kris Kristofferson and collaborating with other musicians, such as his 1975 duet album with Jake Tullock, "Just Joshing". He continued in a similar vein through the 1980s and the '90s.
Josh Graves teamed up with such greats as Kenny Baker, Eddie Adcock and Jesse McReynolds in 1989 to form the Masters and release an eponymous album. In 1988, he recorded an album with his son Billy Troy (guitar). He joined producers Randall Franks and Alan Autry for the In the Heat of the Night cast CD “Christmas Time’s A Comin’” performing "Christmas Time's A Comin'" with the cast on the CD released on Sonlite and MGM/UA for one of the most popular Christmas releases of 1991 and 1992 with Southern retailers.
Although Josh was best known for his Dobro playing, he was also an accomplished flat–top guitarist, and his stage shows usually featured a couple of solos on that instrument. Josh was also a composer of considerable merit and could boast of almost fifty BMI-licensed songs with his name listed as composer or co-composer. He is credited as being a major influence on many leading resophonic guitar players, including Jerry Douglas, Mike Auldridge, and Phil Leadbetter among them.
In 1992 Graves was inducted into the Hall of Greats by the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America. He was also inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor in 1997. In the 90s and 00s, Graves was still in demand for session work and regularly made appearances on various radio and television shows. He continued to release numerous solo recordings, including King of the Dobro and Memories of Foggy Mountain, and performed on the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's third installment of their Will the Circle Be Unbroken series in 2002. Also that year, he issued his swan song, Memories of Foggy Mountain, teaming with a new generation of bluegrass pickers including J.D. Crowe and Audrey Haney.
He died in Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee, 30 Sep 2006 (aged 79)
(Edited from Brad’s Page of Steel, Wikipedia, & Flatt & Scruggs.com)