Herman Barrier (b. 23 January 1920, d. 5 September 1988; string bass/fiddle), Ernest Barrier (b. 23 January 1925, d. 3 February 1994; banjo/mandolin) and Henry Ray Barrier (b. 4 March 1939; guitar/vocals) were all born in or near Savannah, Hardin County, Tennessee, USA. They were, for a time, a popular bluegrass band and helped to introduce the genre to more northern parts of America. The two elder brothers initially played old-time music on a local radio station until the early 50s, when, tiring of the unemployment of their area, the family relocated to South Bend, Indiana. Here, Herman worked as a cabinet maker and Ernest as a welder. When young Henry Ray had learned guitar and proved to be a fine vocalist, they added fiddler Gene Dykes and began playing bluegrass as a part-time or holiday occupation at fairs, festivals and other events. In the late 50s, they recorded for a small Indiana label before being offered a three-year recording contract with Philips International. Initially delighted with their luck, they were less pleased when the label objected to them using their own material or selecting what they should record. Instead, they found themselves mainly recording cover versions of bluegrass hits by established bluegrass groups. The Philips albums were subsequently released in the UK, Australia and Japan. When Herman began to suffer poor health, he and Ernest both decided that they could no longer cope with all the travelling around and quit the business. They eventually returned to Tennessee, where Herman died in 1988. In the early 90s, Ernest still played at a few local functions with local musicians, until he died in 1994. Henry Ray, who stayed in Indiana and continued with his music has, over the years, played with several bluegrass bands. In 1977, Old Homestead released an album after the discovery of some of the Barriers non-studio recordings.
Share this page