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State bluegrass legend Everett Lilly dies

BECKLEY, W.Va. -- Everett Lilly, who along with his brother and a neighbor formed a bluegrass band that would achieve international fame, has died. He was 87.

Lilly died Tuesday at his home in Clear Creek in southern West Virginia, said his son, Daniel Lilly.

"He was the greatest man I've ever known,'' Daniel Lilly said Wednesday.

Everett Lilly began performing professionally in 1938 with his brother Bea on Beckley radio station WJLS. The brothers later formed the Lilly Brothers and Don Stover with Stover, their neighbor and a banjo player, and performed throughout the South.

In the early 1950s, Everett Lilly played with Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs for two years. The brothers and Stover, along with fiddler Tex Logan, moved to Boston in 1952 and stayed there until 1970, performing in bars and honky tonks as the Confederate Mountaineers.

The band went to Japan in 1970, performing again as The Lilly Brothers and Don Stover. They toured the country for several years, performing and promoting bluegrass music.

Stover died in 1996 and Bea Lilly died in 2005.

The Lilly Brothers and Don Stover was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame in 2002 and into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame in 2008.

Daniel Lilly said his father loved to ride four-wheel all-terrain vehicles. Shortly before he died, the pair took a five-hour ride in the woods.

"He wouldn't go out for an hour. He goes out all day, from morning until after dark,'' Daniel Lilly said.

Everett Lilly continued to perform until his death with his sons Daniel and Mark and several other musicians as Everett Lilly and the Lilly Mountaineers.

Daniel Lilly said the band would continue playing.

"We will carry on the Everett Lilly and the Lilly Brothers tradition,'' he said. "He always wanted us to go on and play.''

A public wake will be held from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Blue Ridge Funeral Home in Beckley.

 


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