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Legendary Oklahoma Fiddle Player Byron Berline Dies At 77

Byron Berline performs at the Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival in 2018.
Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival
Byron Berline performs at the Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival in 2018.

Oklahoma fiddle player Byron Berline died on Saturday following complications from a stroke. He was 77.

Berline was born in Caldwell, Kansas, but raised in Grant County in northern Oklahoma. The three-time national fiddle champion performed at the Newport Folk Festival and the Grand Ole Opry, and toured extensively throughout the U.S., Europe, China, Japan, Australia and northern Africa.

Berline was a member of The Dillards, Bill Monroe & His Blue Grass Boys, Country Gazette, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Sundance and more.

He was also a prolific session musician, recording hundreds of songs with the likes of The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Elton John, James Taylor, Emmylou Harris and The Byrds, among others.

His music appeared in films like The Longest Yard and Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid and television shows like Northern Exposure. He also briefly appeared and performed in the first season ofStar Trek: The Next Generation.

Berline moved back to Oklahoma in the mid-1990s and founded the Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival and the Double Stop Fiddle Shop in Guthrie.

In early 2019, a fire tore through his fiddle shop in what was considered a total loss. But after several benefit concerts featuring Vince Gill, Larry Gatlin, Turnpike Troubadours and others, the shop opened in a new location just a few months later.

This report was produced by the Oklahoma Public Media Exchange, a collaboration of public media organizations. Help support collaborative journalism by donating at the link at the top of this webpage.

Ryan LaCroix joined KOSU’s staff in 2013. He hosts All Things Considered, Oklahoma Rock Show, Oklahoma Rock Show: Rewind, and Oklahoma Music Minute.
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