Mainer, Wade


  • From Weaverville, North Carolina. Lived most of his life in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
  • A country music pioneer whose mountain string band music of the 1930’s helped lay the foundation for bluegrass which developed in the 1940’s.
  • He and his older brother J.E. Mainer began performing together in 1927. They were first known as J.E. Mainer’s Crazy Mountaineers. Wade played banjo; J.E. played fiddle. In 1935, they recorded 14 songs for the RCA Bluebird label, including their biggest hit “Maple on the Hill.”
  • 1936, formed his own band, Sons of the Mountaineers with Zeke and Wiley Morris, Clyde Moody, other musicians. From 1935 to 1941, they were one of the most heavily-recorded country artists of that era.
  • 1953, left the music business and moved to Flint, Michigan where he worked for General Motors, retiring in 1972.
  • 1975, began performing again with his wife, Julia May (stage name “Hillbilly Lilly”), who sings and plays guitar. They performed exclusively Gospel music.
  • Mainer played banjo in the two-finger style popularized by Snuffy Jenkins (who inspired Earl Scruggs to develop his three-finger style.)
  • 2002, appeared at the Grand Ole Opry and was Grand Marshall for the Uncle Dave Macon Days parade in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
  • 2011, died at the age of 104.