American Bluegrass Fiddler Byron Berline has Died, Aged 77

Berline played with the likes of American singer-songwriter Bill Monroe as well as rock legends like The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan

(Photo credit: David McDaniel)

Berline passed away from a stroke, just as his band was about to head on stage at Oklahoma's International Bluegrass Festival 2021.

At age 21, Berline distinguished himself as a recording artist on an album he was invited to play on by the acoustic quartet The Dillards called "Pickin' and Fiddlin.'" Later on, his collaborations included those with Flying Burrito Brothers, Dillard & Clark, Elton John, Rod Stewart, and Lucinda Williams.

In a 1997 interview about recording with the Rolling Stones, Berline said "People were just experimenting around with music, and mixing different instruments. It was a big change.

"You had to really study it in a way and be able to improvise enough to get by with it. Naturally, playing with (Bill) Monroe, I listened as much as I could to his past recordings, to see what those fiddlers did and how they approached it."

In addition to performing, Berline provided music for television shows such as "Northern Exposure" and movies like "Basic Instinct." He played a minor role as a musician in the 1979 film "The Rose," and cameoed as a string quartet member in an episode of "Star Trek: The Next Generation."

A winner of three national fiddle competitions and a member of the National Fiddler Hall of Fame, Berline also owned the Double Stop Fiddle Shop in Oklahoma with his wife. Famed musicians like Marcus Mumford were known to visit the shop for jam sessions. 

"We want to thank you all for sharing what Byron means to you and how he touched your lives,” reads his family’s Facebook post. "We are finding them very touching and helpful."

He is survived by his wife, daughter, sister, and four grandchildren. 

Our condolences to Mr. Berline's family, friends, and colleagues.