Clements, Vassar


  • From Kissimmee, Florida.
  • Began playing the fiddle when he was five years old.
  • Called “The Father of Hillbilly Jazz.”
  • 1949-1956, at age 21 replaced Chubby Wise as Bill Monroe’s fiddle player.
  • 1957-1961, worked with Jim and Jesse.
  • 1962, retired from music due to alcohol problems. During that time, he worked as a switchman for the Atlantic Coast Railroad, as an insurance salesman, in a paper mill, and he even had a potato-chip franchise in Tallahassee.
  • 1968, un-retired when offered job with Faron Young’s band. Also worked with Jimmy Martin, John Hartford and the Earl Scruggs Revue before beginning his solo career in 1973.
  • 1971, performed on the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” album, which won a Grammy award.
  • 1973, was a member of Old & In the Way with Jerry Garcia, David Grisman & Peter Rowan.
  • As a studio musician, he has played on more than 2000 records, including albums by The Grateful Dead, Paul McCartney and the Boston Pops Orchestra.
  • 1977, released The Bluegrass Sessions album (Flying Fish).
  • 1979, released Hillbilly Jazz album (Flying Fish).
  • 1991, released Grass Routes album (Rounder).
  • 2001, released Full Circle album (OMS) with John Cowan, Ricky Skaggs, Peter Rowan, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Jim & Jesse, and other guests.
  • 2002, recorded and played dates with Old & In the Gray a reunion with Grisman and Rowan.
  • Died in 2005.
  • 2018, was inducted into the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame.