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Wire from the Bunker: Tony Rice

2020 was a brutal year all around and the folk ghetto here at Phawker was hardly spared: John Prine (covid), Jerry Jeff Walker (cancer) and Billy Joe Shaver (stroke). And, then, they had to take down one more hero on the way out the door: legendary bluegrass singer/guitarist Tony Rice died on Christmas … of all days. In bluegrass circles, Rice was long acknowledged as one of the greatest ever, both as a picker and as a vocalist. But outside that rarified jurisdiction, he is almost completely unknown to the general public. Well, Deadheads – who most certainly are not members of said public -- know Tony from his work with Jerry, most notably “The Pizza Tapes” named after a delivery man allegedly swiped a session tape off of Garcia’s kitchen table when dropping off a pie. My guess is that ol’ Jerry had a few more slices than Rice who was always rail thin.

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