b. Steven Walter Ledford, 2 June 1906, Bakersville, Mitchell County, North Carolina, USA, d. 19 September 1980. One of 12 children, with help from his father, he started playing fiddle aged seven and won a competition two years later. His first professional work came as a member, with two siblings, of the Carolina Ramblers String Band. In 1931, the band travelled to New York, where they played on radio and in February 1932, they recorded 20 sides for ARC, eight of which gained release on various labels including Perfect. Soon afterwards, they disbanded and Ledford returned to North Carolina, where he married and became a farmer. He returned to music in the late 30s, working with J.E. Mainer, Wade Mainer and Zeke Morris on various radio stations and tours, during which time he also made several recordings with Mainer’s Mountaineers, including a version of ‘Little Maggie’, that has since led to the song always being associated with him. Ledford also recorded with Jay Hugh Hall and Clyde Moody as the Happy-Go-Lucky Boys and in the early 40s, he worked for some time at WDBJ Roanoke, Virginia, with Jay Hugh and Roy Hall. The bands played a mixture of old-time and modern music and undoubtedly were an influence on later bluegrass bands. In 1942, Ledford retired to work his farm but several years later, he, with his brother Wayne and James Gardner, re-formed a version of the Carolina Ramblers, which played a long residency in Maggie Valley. In 1971, as the Ledford String Band, they recorded for Rounder Records. Ledford continued to play at some venues until shortly before his death in September 1980.
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