From Clear Creek, West Virginia, in the coal ﬁelds near Beckley, Mitchell Burt “Bea” Lilly (b. December 15, 1921) and Charles Everett Lilly (b. July 1, 1924) learned old ballads and Appalachian folk songs from their family. The brothers were soon entranced by the Carter Family and especially such brother duos as the Monroe Brothers and the Blue Sky Boys. Beginning in 1940, the Lilly Brothers built their early radio careers in Beckley and Wheeling, West Virginia, and Knoxville, Tennessee, singing as a duo, with B. on guitar and Everett on mandolin.
In 1951 Everett joined Flatt and Scruggs, but ﬁddler Tex Logan soon persuaded the brothers and their banjo-playing neighbor, Don Stover (March 6, 1928–November 11, 1996), from Ameagle, West Virginia, to join him in Boston to play on the radio and in clubs. Stover had grown up using the clawhammer style, but after hearing Earl Scruggs in the mid- 1940s, he decided to adopt the three-ﬁnger picking style that would deﬁne the new bluegrass music.
From 1952 to 1970, the Lilly Brothers and Stover played at Boston’s Hillbilly Ranch to transplanted southerners as well as northerners, exposing the latter group not only to the energetic new bluegrass sound, but also to the brother-duo sound and a rich repertoire of older songs and ballads. Don Stover remains an inﬂuential musician in his own right, not only for his banjo playing but also for his singing and songwriting, best heard on his solo albums for the Rounder label.
Mitchell Burt “Bea” Lilly died on September 18, 2005. Everett Lilly died on May 8, 2012.
Cite this Entry
"Lilly Brothers and Don Stover," Encyclopedia of Appalachia, 2018, Encyclopedia of Appalachia. 27 May 2018 <http://www.encyclopediaofappalachia.com/entry.php?rec=136>
"Lilly Brothers and Don Stover." (2018) In Encyclopedia of Appalachia, Retrieved May 27, 2018, from Encyclopedia of Appalachia: http://www.encyclopediaofappalachia.com/entry.php?rec=136
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