Vassar Clements

Vassar Clements, 1928-2005

Vassar Clements was tagged with the nickname “The Kissimmee Kid” after the town in which he was raised and first took up the fiddle at the age of seven. By his teens he had formed a string band with his cousins Red and Gerald. They became a staple on local radio stations and by age 14 Clements had drawn the attention of bluegrass legend Bill Monroe. Vassar spent seven years with Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys before leaving in 1957 to join Jim & Jesse McReynolds who were then based in Live Oak, Florida. Throughout his life Vassar pursued an interest in many forms of music eventually melding country and bluegrass with jazz and swing to form his own unique style, Hillbilly Jazz. It was this diversity and musical curiosity that landed him a spot on The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s Will the Circle Be Unbroken album, exposing his talent to a wider and younger audience. Vassar was soon in demand as a studio musician, eventually appearing on over 2000 recordings from artists as wide ranging as Stephane Grappelli, The Monkees, and The Grateful Dead.

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