b. Beecher Ray Kirby, 26 December 1911, near Gatlinburg, Sevier County, Tennessee, USA, d. 17 October 2002, Nashville, Tennessee, USA. The Kirbys were a musical family with all 10 siblings playing some instrument, though not professionally. Kirby learned guitar and banjo but worked in mills and on a farm before finding work as a guitarist in an Illinois club. After hearing a dobro, he also mastered that instrument. In 1939, he became a member of Roy Acuff’s Smoky Mountain Boys, starting an association that lasted to Acuff’s death in 1992. Kirby’s dobro became a distinctive feature of the Acuff sound and he became known as one of the instrument’s finest exponents. He was also a fine harmony vocalist. Kirby figured in the comedy routines that were part of Acuff’s show and, wearing his bib and brace overalls and playing a banjo for his solo spots, he became known as Bashful Brother Oswald and a great favourite of the Grand Ole Opry audiences. He played on many of Acuff’s recordings but recorded in his own right for Starday in 1962 and for Rounder Records in the 70s, including two fine albums with fellow Acuff band member Charlie Collins. He was also one of the stars chosen to play on the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s famous Will The Circle Be Unbroken project in 1972. Kirby was made a solo member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1995.
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