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Ricky Skaggs
Skaggs during the Festival of Faiths in 2007
Skaggs during the Festival of Faiths in 2007
Background information
Birth nameRickie Lee Skaggs[1][2]
Born (1954-07-18) July 18, 1954 (age 68)
Cordell, Kentucky, U.S.
Occupation(s)Singer-songwriter, session musician, bandleader, producer, arranger
Instrument(s)Vocals, mandolin, guitar, banjo, fiddle
Years active1961–present
LabelsSugar Hill, Epic, Rounder, DCC, Atlantic, Camden, Rebel, Hollywood, Legacy, Skaggs Family
Member ofKentucky Thunder
Sharon White
(m. 1981)

Rickie Lee Skaggs[1][2] (born July 18, 1954),[6] known professionally as Ricky Skaggs, is an American neotraditional country and bluegrass singer, musician, producer, and composer. He primarily plays mandolin; however, he also plays fiddle, guitar, mandocaster, and banjo.[7]

Skaggs was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in 2016 and the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2018.[8] On January 13, 2021, it was announced Skaggs had been awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Donald Trump, alongside fellow country musician Toby Keith.


Early career

Skaggs was born in Cordell, Kentucky.[9] He started playing music at age 5 after he was given a mandolin by his father, Hobert Skaggs. At age 6, he played mandolin and sang on stage with Bill Monroe. At age 7, he appeared on television's Martha White country music variety show, playing with Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs. He also wanted to audition for the Grand Ole Opry at that time, but was told he was too young.

In his mid-teens, Skaggs met a fellow teen guitarist, Keith Whitley, and the two started playing together with Whitley's banjo playing brother, Dwight, on radio shows. By 1970, they had earned a spot opening for Ralph Stanley, and Skaggs and Keith Whitley were thereafter invited to join Stanley's band, the Clinch Mountain Boys.[10]

Skaggs later joined The Country Gentlemen in Washington, DC, J. D. Crowe's New South. In 1976, Skaggs formed progressive bluegrass band Boone Creek, including members Vince Gill and Jerry Douglas. For a few years, Skaggs was a member of Emmylou Harris's Hot Band. He wrote the arrangements for Harris's 1980 bluegrass-roots album, Roses in the Snow. In addition to arranging for Harris, Skaggs sang harmony and played mandolin and fiddle in the Hot Band.

Country career

Skaggs launched his own career in 1980, achieving 12 No. 1 hits, 8 CMA awards, and 8 ACM awards. In 1982, he became a member of the Grand Ole Opry, the youngest musician ever to be inducted at that time. Guitarist and producer Chet Atkins credited Skaggs with "single-handedly" saving country music.[11] Skaggs is considered one of the pioneers of the Neotraditional country sub-genre.

In 1981, he debuted on Epic Records with the album Waitin for the Sun to Shine, which brought him to both the country and pop charts and produced two No. 1 hits.

In 1982, he released Highways & Heartaches, his only platinum album, featuring the instrumental heavy "Highway 40 Blues".

Keeping with his instrumental heavy themes, he released "Country Boy" on the album of the same name. He also had Bill Monroe as a guest on this album.

Exploring a role as producer, Skaggs produced Dolly Parton's album White Limozeen, which started her comeback in country music.

Skaggs also guested on other albums. In 1995, he sang with Vince Gill on "Go Rest High on That Mountain", which later won CMA's Song of the Year and was determined by BMI to be the Most-Performed Song in 1997.

Later career

In 1996, Skaggs went back to his bluegrass roots, and also experimented with new sounds. With his band, Kentucky Thunder, he is a perennial winner of Grammy Awards and International Bluegrass Music Association for best bluegrass album.

Ricky Skaggs in May 2016
Ricky Skaggs in May 2016

In 2000, he shared the stage with Vermont-based jam band, Phish.[12] On March 20, 2007, Skaggs released an album with rock musician Bruce Hornsby.

In 2008, Skaggs released an album he recorded with The Whites on his Skaggs Family Records label.

In 2008, Skaggs recorded a bluegrass version of "Old Enough" by the Raconteurs with Ashley Monroe and the Raconteurs. He played the mandolin on the track as well as sharing vocals with Jack White, Brendan Benson, and Ashley Monroe.

In 2011, Skaggs, along with other musicians including the Irish band The Brock McGuire Band, released their album 'Green Grass Blue Grass", an exploration of the connection between Irish Traditional Music and American Bluegrass and Appalachian music.

Ricky Skaggs and Sharon White, McGlohon Theater, Charlotte, NC, August 19, 2015
Ricky Skaggs and Sharon White, McGlohon Theater, Charlotte, NC, August 19, 2015

Also in 2011, Skaggs contributed to Moody Bluegrass TWO...Much Love, a bluegrass tribute album to the British Progressive Rock band the Moody Blues. Skaggs sang lead vocal on the song "You And Me".[13]

In 2012, Skaggs collaborated with Barry Gibb on the song, "Soldier's Son" which was released on Music to My Ears.

In 2015, Skaggs toured with Ry Cooder, Sharon White and other members of The Whites.[14]

In 2016, he produced the Grammy-winning album Love Remains for Lady Antebellum member Hillary Scott.

In 2019, he collaborated with Steven Curtis Chapman for Chapman's album Deeper Roots: Where the Bluegrass Grows

In 2019, Skaggs performed at the 6th Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum Concert and Induction Ceremony.

As of recent years, Skaggs continues performing at the historic Grand Ole Opry house in Nashville, Tennessee.

In 2021 Skaggs was nominated for the SOTE award which was delayed by the Covid pandemic.

Personal life

Ricky Skaggs was previously married to Brenda Stanley and has two children, Andrew and Mandy, from that relationship.[15] Skaggs has been married to Sharon White of The Whites since August 1981.[16] They have 2 children; a daughter, Molly, and a son, Lucas.[16] Molly Skaggs is a Christian/Gospel singer.[17]

In June 2020, Skaggs underwent quadruple bypass surgery in Nashville.

Skaggs in 2021 was awarded the National Medal of the Arts by President Donald Trump.


Main article: Ricky Skaggs discography


Grammy Awards

CMA (Country Music Association) Awards

ACM (Academy of Country Music) Awards


IBMA (International Bluegrass Music Association) Awards

TNN/Music City News Country Awards

Other awards and accomplishments


  1. ^ a b Skaggs, Ricky (2013). Kentucky Traveler: My Life in Music.
  2. ^ a b Skaggs, Ricky (August 16, 2013). "Read From Ricky Skaggs' Memoir, Kentucky Traveler".
  3. ^ Holtzclaw, Mike (April 9, 2019). "Ricky Skaggs stays true to his country and bluegrass roots". Daily Press. Retrieved July 21, 2019.
  4. ^ Freeman, Jon (September 11, 2017). "How Ricky Skaggs Redefined Bluegrass and Brought It to the Mainstream". Rolling Stone. Retrieved July 21, 2019. ["Skaggs had his first country Number One, at age 27, in April 1982 with the weepy ballad “Crying My Heart Out Over You." It kicked off an incredible run of 12 chart-topping hits, placing him in the first wave of country's celebrated neotraditional movement along with George Strait, John Anderson and Randy Travis."]
  5. ^ "Ricky Skaggs, Whites Record Gospel CD". September 7, 2007. Retrieved July 21, 2019.
  6. ^ "Famous birthdays for July 18: Vin Diesel, Kristen Bell". United Press International. July 18, 2019. Archived from the original on July 19, 2019. Retrieved August 7, 2019. Country singer Ricky Skaggs in 1954 (age 65)
  7. ^ "Ricky Skaggs headlining Christmas shows". Zanesville Recorder. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  8. ^ "Country Music Hall of Fame Elects Ricky Skaggs, Dottie West, Johnny Gimble". Retrieved July 23, 2018.
  9. ^ Inc., Active Interest Media (May–June 2000). American Cowboy. Active Interest Media, Inc. pp. 32–. ISSN 1079-3690. ((cite book)): |last= has generic name (help)
  10. ^ "Ricky Skaggs Biography". PBS. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  11. ^ "The Story". Ricky Skaggs. July 1, 1954. Retrieved January 1, 2016.
  12. ^ "June 22, 2000 Setlist :: Phish". The Mockingbird Foundation, Inc. Retrieved September 6, 2012.
  13. ^ "Moody Bluegrass TWO...Much Love". Moody Bluegrass project website. Archived from the original on July 6, 2015. Retrieved September 6, 2015.
  14. ^ "Cozy Up To Warm Sounds for Fall with 'Cooder White Skaggs' Tour". Ricky Skaggs website. Retrieved September 9, 2015.
  15. ^ Skaggs, Ricky (2014). Kentucky Traveler: My Life in Music. Dey Street Books. ISBN 978-0061917349.
  16. ^ a b "Offstage". Archived from the original on March 6, 2016. Retrieved January 1, 2016.
  17. ^ Yap, Timothy (January 3, 2019). "Listen to Bethel Music's New Rootsy "Ain't No Grave" Here : News : Hallels". Hallels. Retrieved December 16, 2019.
  18. ^ a b "Ricky Skaggs". Ricky Skaggs. Retrieved January 1, 2016.
  19. ^ "ACM Winners | Academy of Country Music". Retrieved January 1, 2016.
  20. ^ "Bluegrass Star Award, by the Bluegrass Heritage Foundation". Bluegrass Heritage Foundation. Retrieved October 31, 2017.
  21. ^ "Honorary Degree Recipients – Honorary Degrees – Eastern Kentucky University". Retrieved July 23, 2018.
  22. ^ "Ricky Skaggs getting honorary doctorate -". Retrieved July 23, 2018.
  23. ^ "Country Music Stars Initiate Sidewalk Memorial". August 5, 1987. Retrieved February 17, 2019.