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Who Vassar Clements
When August 16, 2005
Where Nashville, TN
What Fiddler virtuoso Vassar Clements dead at 77
 

Vassar Clements, a fiddle virtuoso and A-list studio musician who played with Paul McCartney and an array of others, died at his home today after a battle with lung cancer, his daughter said.

Clements, 77, was hospitalized for 18 days earlier this year, receiving chemotherapy and other treatment.

Clements' last performance was Feb. 4 in Jamestown, N.Y., Cranor said.

His work bridged a variety of styles, including country, jazz, bluegrass, rock 'n' roll and classical.

"When the rhythm is good, I can play it," he told The Associated Press in a 1988 interview .

Clements, who appeared in Robert Altman's 1975 film "Nashville," taught himself to play at age 7 and had no formal training. The first song he learned was "There's an Old Spinning Wheel in the Parlor."

"It was God's gift, something born in me," he said about his talent. "I was too dumb to learn it any other way. I listened to the (Grand Ole) Opry some. I'd pick it up one note at a time. I was young, with plenty of time and I didn't give up. You'd come home from school, do your lessons and that's it. No other distractions.

"I don't read music. I play what I hear."

He was employed at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for a year in the mid-1960s, working on plumbing. At various times, he also worked in a Georgia paper mill, was a switchman for Atlantic Coast Railroad, sold insurance and had a potato chip franchise.

But music was always part of his life.

"I'd always play. Square dances, anything," he said.

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Contact John Gerome
The Tennessean


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