Bluegrass star Tony Rice has died at age 69. File photo courtesy
of Wikimedia Commons
Dec. 27 (UPI) -- Bluegrass star Tony Rice has died at age 69, his former record label announced on social media.
"Tony Rice June 8, 1951 - December 25, 2020 We were all deeply saddened by the news of Tony Rice's sudden passing on Christmas Day, and we offer our deepest condolences to his loved ones and his many fans. May he Rest In Peace," Rounder Records said Saturday.
The cause of his death has not been made public.
The California native was a guitarist famous for his flat-picking skills.
Throughout his decades-long career, he played with the bands J.D. Crowe and the New South, as well as with guitarist Norman Blake, mandolin player David Grisman and the Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia.
His last album was 2011's Hartford Rice and Clements, which was recorded in 1988. He was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Association's Hall of Fame in 2013.
Rice hadn't played guitar publicly for the past seven years because of medical conditions that made it difficult to play guitar.
He was diagnosed with muscle-tension dysphonia in 1994 and hadn't sung in concert since then.
"It is with a heavy heart we say goodbye to one of the most iconic voices and musicians in bluegrass," association said in a statement. "David Anthony 'Tony' Rice passed away yesterday, Dec. 25, at his home in Reidsville, N.C. Few will ever match his skill and influence."
Another of Rice's collaborators -- country and bluegrass great Ricky Skaggs -- called Rice "the single most influential acoustic guitar player in the last 50 years."
"Many if not all of the bluegrass guitar players of today would say that they cut their teeth on Tony Rice's music. He loved hearing the next generation players play his licks. I think that's where he got most of his joy as a player," Skaggs said.