Stan Rendell

Guitar string pioneer Stan Rendell passed away September 11, 2006, at the age of 91. Rendell served as president of Gibson Guitars in Kalamazoo, Michigan, from the late 1960s to the mid ’70s, where he worked closely with Les Paul developing the Les Paul Guitar. In 1976, Rendell left Gibson to found Sterlingworth Music, a private-label string-manufacturing company that he eventually sold to Dean Markley. Rendell, who continued to serve as an active consultant to Dean Markley for over 20 years, is survived by his wife of 47 years, Shirley, his daughters Nora Kovacs and Susan O’Connell, and his son, R. Mills Rendell.
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Dobroist Burkett Howard Graves, better known to country and bluegrass fans as “Uncle Josh,” died September 30th at his home in Nashville, Tennessee, at the age of 79. Graves, who joined Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs’ Foggy Mountain Boys in the 1950s, was instrumental in introducing the Dobro to bluegrass music. He went on to record with artists such as Kris Kristofferson, John Hiatt, and the Nitty Gritty Drit Band, and was inducted into the International Music Association’s Hall of Honor in 1997.

Blues guitarist and National Endowment for the Arts Award recipient Etta Baker died September 23 at the age of 93. Baker, who toured well into her 80s, worked for 26 years at a textile mill in her home town of Morganton, North Carolina, before quitting at age 60 to pursue a career as a professional musician. Baker’s unique approach to fingerpicking and Piedmont blues made her a favorite on the international folk-festival circuit, and served as inspiration to many artists, including Taj Mahal, with whom she recorded 2004’s Etta Baker with Taj Mahal. Mahal had this to say about Baker’s version of “Railroad Bill”: “Man, that chord in ‘Railroad Bill,’ that was the chord. It just cut right through me. I can’t even describe how deep that was for me. Just beautiful stuff.”