Here's the thing about Ricky Skaggs. He's awesome. He's a country music legend. He's a bluegrass legend. A mandolin magician. A Country Music Hall of Fame member. He brings the Kentucky Thunder (literally and figuratively). He's an American icon who is both the salt of the earth and blessed with other-worldly talent.
Ricky Skaggs was born a country boy in Cordell, Kentucky, so bluegrass music has been in his blood from the day he was born. At 5 years old he began playing the mandolin. One measly year later he was playing with Bill Monroe. A year later -- at age 7, if you're keeping score at home -- he was performing on Martha White's country music variety television show with Earl Scruggs and Lester Flatt. Flatt & Scruggs. Just ridiculous.
Skaggs also wanted to audition for the Grand Ole Opry but was told he was too young. Guess you can't win everything (just 99% of things).
Once he became an adult and started playing country music and bluegrass music professionally -- including with his bluegrass band Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder -- Skaggs pretty much destroyed the country charts. He racked up 12 No. 1 hits, eight CMA awards and eight ACM awards. He also won a whole bunch of Grammy Awards too but who's counting? The man also started his own record label, called Skaggs Family Records. Oh, and Chet Atkins once said that Ricky Skaggs was "single-handedly" responsible for saving country music. (You're welcome, Nashville.)
Between the country hits, the awards, being in Emmylou Harris' Hot Band and winning an International Bluegrass Music Association award for best bluegrass album, and the aforementioned billion Country Music Association Awards -- really just a mosaic of unbridled success -- it became pretty clear that Ricky Skaggs was the new father of bluegrass.
In honor of this Entertainer of the Year-winner, here are some of Ricky Skaggs' best performances throughout the years. Enjoy the mandolin and those classic tenor vocals.
1. His television debut at the age of 7
It seems the mandolin master was born with incredible skills, as evidenced by this adorable video of Skaggs' television debut.
2. Performing with the Clinch Mountain Boys in 1972
Performing with the Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys (along with fellow country star Keith Whitley) really helped Skaggs get his name out there and launch his own career.
3. "Heartbroke" in 1982
This was the year he got inducted into the Grand Ole Opry and when his solo career really kicked off.
4. Performing with Phish in 2000
This led to Skaggs releasing a rock-inspired album with Bruce Hornsby. He was able to experiment with some new sounds and gain inspiration from other talented musicians.