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Generation 3 Artist Bio: Jerry Douglas

One of the best-known Bluegrass musicians, and possibly the best-known Dobro/lap steel guitar player, Jerry Douglas has had an incredible career. With 13 Grammys and 3 “Musician of the Year” Country Music Awards under his belt, Douglas has set a remarkably high bar for Bluegrass musicians. He’s worked on more than 2,000 albums, recording with the likes of Mumford and Sons, Alison Krauss & Union Station, Ray Charles, Emmylou Harris, Phish, Elvis Costello, Paul Simon, and Dolly Parton. He was born on May 28, 1956, in Warren, Ohio. Today he resides in Nashville with his family–but where did he come from?

Douglas began playing Dobro in Ohio at age 8, after his father took him to an Flatt and Scruggs concert. He saw and heard their Dobroist, Josh Graves, and fell in love. He soon after began playing with his father’s group, then The Country Gentlemen, followed by J.D. Crowe and the New South, all the while dabbling as a solo artist. He was quite inspired by some still-relevant artists, like Graves, Paul Simon, Eric Clapton, and James Taylor.

In 2012, he released his 14th solo album, Traveler. It went to #1 on the US Bluegrass chart, and #168 in the US of all music. He also worked on the O Brother soundtrack. Jerry has done a great deal to bring Bluegrass into the spotlight. Below is one of my favorite Simon & Garfunkel songs, “The Boxer,” as performed by Douglas, Mumford and Sons, and Paul Simon himself. Listen for the Dobro break at 2:04:

Here he is with Alison Krauss, performing one of James Taylor’s biggest hits:

Jerry Douglas seems to fit the bill of a Bluegrass musician perfectly–he was the son of a music-loving steelworker, he learned to play young, and he had many inspirations from the previous generations of Bluegrass and other genres alike. He has already achieved an illustrious career, and he’s still going! Apparently, work on a 15th solo album has commenced…keep your eyes peeled.

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