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Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder
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Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder Media
About Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder
A life full of music. That’s the story of Ricky Skaggs. By age 21, he was already considered a “recognized master” of one of America’s most demanding art forms, but his career took him in other directions, catapulting him to popularity and success in the mainstream of country music. His life’s path has taken him to various musical genres, from where it all began in bluegrass music, to striking out on new musical journeys, while still leaving his musical roots intact.
Ricky struck his first chords on a mandolin over 50 years ago, and this 14-time Grammy Award winner continues to do his part to lead the recent roots revival in music. With 12 consecutive Grammy-nominated classics behind him, the diverse and masterful tones made by the gifted Skaggs come from a life dedicated to playing music that is both fed by the soul and felt by the heart.
Ricky was born in 1954 in Cordell, Kentucky, and received his first mandolin at the age of five after his father heard him harmonizing with his mother from across the house as he played with his toys. He soon earned a reputation among the locals in his community. By age seven, Skaggs performed with bluegrass legends Flatt & Scruggs on their popular syndicated television show, for which he earned his first paycheck for a musical performance.
In 1971, he entered the world of professional music with his friend Keith Whitley, when the two young musicians were invited to join the band of bluegrass patriarch Ralph Stanley. Ricky soon began to build a reputation for creativity and excitement through live appearances and recordings with acts such as J. D. Crowe & the New South. He performed on the band’s 1975 debut album, which is widely regarded as one of the most influential bluegrass albums ever made.
In the late 1970s, Ricky turned his attention to country music. Though still in his 20s, the wealth of experience and talent he possessed served him well, first as a member of Emmylou Harris’ Hot Band and later as an individual recording artist on his own. With the release of Waitin’ for the Sun to Shine in 1981, Skaggs reached the top of the country charts and remained there throughout most of the 1980s, resulting in a total of 12 #1 hits. In 1982, he became a member of the Grand Ole Opry, the youngest to ever be inducted at that time. Renowned guitarist and producer Chet Atkins credited Skaggs with “single-handedly” saving country music.
He counts the current configuration of Kentucky Thunder among the best group of musicians he has ever worked with. “This group of guys meets my approval every night,” Ricky says. “Each and every one of the pickers in Kentucky Thunder totally amazes me in every show… and that, to me, outweighs any award we could ever win.”
Ricky has often said that he is “just trying to make a living” playing the music he loves. But it’s clear that his passion for it puts him in the position to bring his lively, distinctively American form of music out of isolation and into the ears and hearts of audiences across the country and around the world. Ricky Skaggs is always forging ahead with cross-cultural, genre-bending musical ideas and inspirations.
What Other People Have Been Saying...
“a legend of the genre… the best bluegrass has to offer.” – Seattle Times
“pillar of American roots music” – Boston Globe
“there was thunder in the music. Flashes of lightning. Songs that voiced the storms of heart and mind. Skaggs is that good, and so is this band… cascading, hyperspeed leads.” – Chicago Tribune
“there isn’t much in contemporary music as dazzling as bluegrass, especially when Mr. Skaggs is involved.” – Wall Street Journal