Music

Don Maddox, Fiddler and Comedian of the Maddox Brothers & Rose, Dies at Age 98

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Don Maddox, the last surviving member of the Maddox Brothers & Rose, died last Sunday (Sept. 12) at the age of 98.

"Maddox, who began performing with his siblings in 1937, was the group's fiddle player and comedian," read a post on the Country Music Hall of Fame's Facebook page. "With their raucous stage act and matching Technicolor outfits designed by tailor Nathan Turk, the Maddox Brothers & Rose built a reputation as the most colorful hillbilly band in America. Their energetic sound later influenced rockabilly and the brash side of California's Bakersfield Sound."

We are saddened by the passing of fiddler and singer Don Maddox, who was the last surviving member of California’s...

Posted by Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on Thursday, September 16, 2021

K.C. "Don Juan" Maddox was born in Boaz, Ala. on Dec. 7, 1922, making him from the Sand Mountain region that's the birthplace of the Louvin Brothers and Alabama's Randy Owen, Jeff Cook, and Teddy Gentry. Don and his future bandmates migrated as children with their parents from Alabama to California, where, per the Western Swing Society, they worked in the migrant labor camps of the San Joaquin Valley.

Don became a regional radio star out of Modesto and Sacramento, Cal. in the 1930s alongside brothers Fred, Cal and Cliff (later replaced by another sibling, Henry) plus their sister Rose.

The Maddox Brothers & Rose's fiery performance style (grounded by Fred Maddox's slap bass technique) and flashy appearance made them building blocks of not just West Coast country music but also Nashville honky-tonk and old-time rock 'n' roll.

After a hiatus caused by Don, Fred and Cal serving their country during World War II, the band sealed its legacy with a run on Columbia Records.

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Don stepped out of the public eye after the band split in the late '50s and became a cattle rancher in Ashland, Ore. He experienced a career resurgence in the 21st century, from performing with the Oregon Old Time Fiddlers Association to appearing on TV's Marty Stuart Show and earning a standing ovation at the Grand Ole Opry.

A late-life interview with Don became an invaluable resource for Ken Burns' PBS docu-series Country Music.

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Don Maddox, Fiddler and Comedian of the Maddox Brothers & Rose, Dies at Age 98