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Jesse McReynolds
McReynolds at the Grand Ole Opry in 2007
Background information
Birth nameJesse Lester McReynolds
Also known asMandolin Man
Born(1929-07-09)July 9, 1929
Origin Coeburn, Virginia, U.S.
DiedJune 23, 2023(2023-06-23) (aged 93)
Gallatin, Tennessee, U.S.
Genres Bluegrass
Instrument(s) Mandolin, fiddle, guitar, vocals
Years active1945–2023
Labels Capitol, Columbia, Epic, Opryland, CMH, Rounder, Old Dominion, Rural Rhythm Records Rural Rhythm Records

Jesse Lester McReynolds (July 9, 1929 – June 23, 2023) was an American bluegrass musician. He was best known for his innovative crosspicking and split-string styles of mandolin playing.


McReynolds was born in Coeburn, Virginia. He and his brother Jim begin performing together [1] in or around 1947. They originally performed under the name, "The McReynolds Brothers." [2] In 1951, Jesse and Jim, joined by Larry Roll on guitar, made their first recording, ten gospel songs for Kentucky Records under the name "The Virginia Trio". [2] In 1952, Jim and Jesse signed with Capitol Records, who asked them to change their name from the "McReynolds Brothers," so they started recording under the name " Jim and Jesse and the Virginia Boys." [2] They recorded 20 songs for Capitol over three sessions in 1952, 1953, and 1955. [2] During this time (1952-1954), Jesse also served in the US Army in Korea (they recorded sessions in 1953 while he was on leave). [2] While serving in Korea, he and Charlie Louvin of the Louvin Brothers (who was also serving in Korea) formed a band called the "Dusty Roads Boys" and played regular concerts for other troops. [3] After Jesse's return from Korea, Jim and Jesse continued to perform and release albums until Jim's death from cancer in 2002. McReynolds was married to his wife, Joy. [4]

From 2002, Jesse continued to perform and record as a solo artist. McReynolds played between 60 and 70 shows each year. Jim and Jesse became members of the Grand Ole Opry in 1964; Jesse maintained the duo's Opry membership since Jim's death in 2002. He became the oldest standing Opry member in March 2020, following the death of fellow Opry member Jan Howard. In 2019, he celebrated his 55th anniversary as a member of the Opry. In January 2017 he appeared on the CMT network show Nashville as a blind singer who inspires the character Rayna Jaymes (played by Connie Britton). McReynolds died in Gallatin, Tennessee, on June 23, 2023, at the age of 93. [5]


Recordings [2] [7]

Year Album(s) Group Notes
1951 The Virginia Trio 1951: Their Early Gospel Recordings (Old Dominion, 2000); Sacred Songs of The Virginia Trio (Ultrasonic) The Virginia Trio or James and Jesse McReynolds with Larry Roll Ten songs originally recorded as singles for the Kentucky label, later released as a single album by Ultrasonic and Old Dominion.
1952, 1954, 1955 20 Great Songs by Jim and Jesse (Capitol, 1968); First Sounds: The Capitol Years (2002); [8] Jim and Jesse: 1952-1955 (Bear Family, 1992); Jim and Jesse: Best of the Early Years (Cleopatra, 2009) Jim and Jesse The duo recorded 20 songs for Capitol in three sessions. These songs have been released under various album names (not all albums listed include all 20 songs).
1958 Best of the Best: Legendary Bluegrass Duets [9] (Federal, 2003) Jim and Jesse 14 singles recorded for Starday and released on various compilations but not released together until 2003 (and even then, only 10 of the tracks appear on the album)
1960 Bluegrass Special/Bluegrass Classics (2-LP set - Epic, 1963) Jim and Jesse and the Virginia Boys
1962 Radio Shows (2-LP set - Old Dominion, 1979) Jim and Jesse and the Virginia Boys Recordings of several of Jim and Jesse's radio shows on WBAM (syndicated by Martha White)
1963 Country Music & Bluegrass at Newport (Vanguard, 1963) Various artists Live recording from 1963 Newport Folk Festival; four tracks from Jim and Jesse
unknown (1960–1964) [10] The Old Country Church (Epic, 1964) Jim and Jesse and the Virginia Boys
unknown (1960–1965) Y'all Come! Bluegrass Humor with Jim & Jesse & the Virginia Boys (Epic, 1965) Jim and Jesse and the Virginia Boys Not to be confused with Y'all Come: The Essential Jim and Jesse, a greatest hits album released later
unknown (1960–1965) Berry Pickin' In the Country (The Great Chuck Berry Songbook) (Epic, 1965) Jim and Jesse and the Virginia Boys A cover album of Chuck Berry songs
unknown (1960–1966) Sing Unto Him a New Song (Epic, 1966) Jim and Jesse and the Virginia Boys
unknown (1960–1967) Diesel on My Tail (Epic, 1967) Jim and Jesse
1968 The All-Time Great Country Instrumentals (Epic, 1968) Jim and Jesse
1968–1969 [11] The Soft Parade (Elektra, 1969) The Doors Jesse plays mandolin on this Doors album
1969 Saluting the Louvin Brothers (Epic, 1969) Jim and Jesse
1969 We Like Trains (Epic, 1969) Jim and Jesse
1971 Freight Train (Capitol, 1971) Jim and Jesse
1972 The Jim & Jesse Show (Prize, 1972; Old Dominion 1972) Jim and Jesse
1972 Mandolin Workshop (Hilltop, 1972) Jesse McReynolds
1973 Superior Sounds of Bluegrass (Old Dominion, 1973) Jim and Jesse and the Virginia Boys
1973 Me and My Fiddles (Old Dominion, 1973) Jesse McReynolds
1973 Bean Blossom (MCA, 1973) Various Artists Live recording of the 7th Annual Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival; includes five tracks from Jim and Jesse
1974 [12] Jesus is the Key to the Kingdom (Old Dominion, 1975) Jim and Jesse and the Virginia Boys
1975 The Jim & Jesse Show - Live in Japan [13] (2-LP set - Old Dominion, 1975) Jim and Jesse
1976 [13] Songs About Our Country (Old Dominion, 1976) Jim and Jesse
1976 Allen Shelton - Shelton Special (Rounder, 1977) Allen Shelton Jesse plays backup for this solo album by Allen Shelton, long time banjo player in the Virginia Boys
1977 [13] Palace of Songs (Old Dominion, 1977) Jim and Jesse
1979 [13] Songs of Inspiration (Old Dominion, 1979) Jim and Jesse and the Virginia Boys
1981 [14] Master of Bluegrass (MCA Records, 1981) Bill Monroe Jesse played on two of the tracks on this album, "Melissa's Waltz for J.B." and "Lady of the Blue Ridge"
1983 [13] Homeland Harmony (Old Dominion, 1983) Jim and Jesse
1983 Tanyards: Bluegrass Fiddle (Blueberry BB145) Jim Moss Jesse was one of the backing musicians on this album from Jim Moss
1986 [13] Somewhere My Love (Old Dominion, 1986) Jesse McReynolds This was a solo effort by Jesse playing both mandolin and lead guitar, with a backup band that did not include Jim
1990 [15] The Masters (CMH Records, 1995) The Masters One of two albums released by the bluegrass super group The Masters (Josh Graves, Kenny Baker, Eddie Adcock, Jesse McReynolds) that toured together in the late 80s and early 90s
1990 [16] Saturday Night Fish Fry (CMH Records, 1995) The Masters
1993 [13] Honor the King of Country Music, Roy Acuff (Old Dominion, 1993) Jim and Jesse This album is sometimes referred to as "Tribute to Roy Acuff"
2001 [17] Masters of the Mandolin Bobby Osborne and Jesse McReynolds
2007 Dixie Road Jesse McReynolds
2010 [18] Songs of the Grateful Dead: A Tribute to Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter Jesse McReynolds and Friends
2017 [19] Portraits in Fiddles (Compass Records, 2017) Mike Barnett Jesse is featured on two tracks and a speaking intro where he shares the origins of his signature flat picking style.


  1. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas; Vinopal, David. "Biography: Jim & Jesse". AMG. Retrieved May 18, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Statman, Andy. Bluegrass Masters: Jesse McReynolds. Oak.
  3. ^ Louvin, Charlie; Whitmer, Benjamin. Satan is Real: The Ballad of the Louvin Brothers. Igniter.
  4. ^ Harvey, Ellen (July 19, 2010). "Owners Hope to Sing Praises of Their 2YO". Harness Racing Communications. Retrieved March 6, 2020.
  5. ^ Lawless, John (June 23, 2023). "Jesse McReynolds passes". Bluegrass Today. Retrieved June 24, 2023.
  6. ^ "Jesse McReynolds". December 6, 2013. Retrieved July 25, 2015.
  7. ^ Recordings after 1979 from Old Dominion Masters liner notes
  8. ^ "Jim & Jesse|First Sounds:The Capitol Years". Retrieved April 3, 2020.
  9. ^ Statman reports these Starday recording sessions but does not report an album name, as it had not been released at the time of Statman's writing. The album info comes from and
  10. ^ while the date of this and several other of the Epic sessions is unknown, they are listed here in chronological order as reported by Jesse to Andy Statman for his book
  11. ^ "". Retrieved October 31, 2015.
  12. ^ Statman reports this as having been recorded in 1975. The liner notes of "The Old Dominion Masters" reports 1974
  13. ^ a b c d e f g Liner notes for "Old Dominion Masters," 4 album set released by Old Dominion and Pinecastle Records in 1999.
  14. ^ Bill Monroe: The Life and Music of the Blue Grass Man by Tom Ewing
  15. ^ "". Retrieved October 31, 2015.
  16. ^ "". Retrieved October 31, 2015.
  17. ^ "Masters of the Mandolin - Bobby Osborne, Jesse McReynolds | Songs, Reviews, Credits". Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  18. ^ "". Retrieved July 25, 2015.
  19. ^ "". Retrieved August 7, 2022.

External links