Kenny Baker

Bluegrass fiddler Kenny Baker was born on June 26, 1926, in Burdine, Kentucky. Both his father and grandfather were fiddlers, and by eight years old, Kenny himself had picked up the instrument. After a stint in the Navy, Baker returned to Kentucky, where he worked in the coal mines and played fiddle and some guitar at local dances. In 1953, country vocalist Don Gibson hired Baker for his band at WNOX in Knoxville, Tennessee. During his tenure with Gibson, Baker expanded his stylistic range, incorporating the smoother jazz violin style of St├ęphane Grappelli. He also began to develop his "long-bow" style of playing, which blended and elongated notes much more than the traditional chop of bluegrass fiddle. Of his style, Baker would later comment "bluegrass is nothing but a hillbilly version of jazz."