Thursday, March 20, 2008

The End of an Era of Harmony

Category: News/Obituary

Harmony and family acts are synonymous with country music. One of the best in both categories was the Blue Sky Boys, the duo of brothers Bill and Earl Bolick, who enjoyed great success in the 1930s and 40s.

From Hickory, North Carolina comes the sad news that William "Bill" Bolick has passed away. He died last Friday (March 14th). No cause of death was given.

The Blue Sky Boys started in their home state of North Carolina, performing on radio shows and making public appearances. Their music featured guitar and mandolin with sparse, if any, additional accompaniment. Bill was most unique among mandolin players of his era (or any other): he never played "rhythm" chords, preferring instead to play single notes.

Their music was a combination of sacred tunes ("S-A-V-E-D" is among the best) and ballads that were common in country music. Bill was an excellent songwriter, giving the world what may still be country music's only double suicide song: "Katy Dear."

As music became amplified, the Blue Sky Boys found themselves less and less in demand. They retired from music and went their separate ways, with Earl moving to Atlanta to work for Lockheed while Bill worked for the railway mail service.

Earl Bolick died in 1998, ending any hopes of reunion offers that both brothers vehemently rejected throughout the last years of Earl's life. Now with the passing of Bill, a chapter in country music history -- a simpler time, when the music was more from the heart and less from the wallet -- has closed permanently.

Farewell to the great Bill Bolick, who died March 14 at the age of 90.

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