HAPPY BIRTHDAY Michael McPeak born, May 4, 1949, guitarist/lead vocalist of The McPeak Brothers who were a popular bluegrass trio from Wytheville, VA, comprised of banjo/guitar player Dewey, bassist/guitarist Larry and Mike. Their older brother Udell broke into music first when he joined the Lonesome Pine Fiddlers during the 1950s. In 1963, he, Dewey and Larry formed the first version of the McPeak Brothers. Soon after, Udell left to play with Red Smiley’s band and was replaced by Mike. Following the addition of fiddler Ernest Atkins and mandolin player Gus Ingo, the group began appearing weekly on a local radio show in 1969. The McPeaks made their recording debut in 1970 and cut their first album (Virginia, Where It All Began) two years later. They released a second effort, Bluegrass at Its Peak, in 1973. Atkins’ friendship with Mel Tillis helped the McPeaks get onto Tillis’ syndicated TV show, which led to a contract with RCA Victor and an album in 1974. They soon left the label and recorded three more albums on independent labels. Several McPeak Brothers tunes — “Somebody Socked It to Mine,” “Simon Crutchfield’s Grave,” and “Bobbi,” — became quite popular with progressive bluegrass players. The group slowed down considerably during the mid-’80s and only played local engagements. They did cut a new album in 1992, though, and later put together an anthology containing the best of their independently released songs.
About the authorI enjoy researching Bluegrass, Bluegrass Gospel, and Country birthdays, anniversaries and interesting trivia dates. I am a piano/organ performance major who has taught privately and served as church accompanist since 1968 in North Carolina and Central Kentucky. Although classically trained, I appreciate all genres of music. My mother, who was also a church musician and taught public school music grades K-12, knew that Bluegrass music was the purest American music. She always introduced her students to this fine genre and began my musical studies with her at age 2. Bach to Berachah Valley, Mozart to Jimmy Martin, Sibelius to Stanley Brothers, the list goes on, I hope you find some moments of enjoyment and learn a few interesting facts along the way.
I am thankful for the many resources we have at our fingertips including Google. FaceBook and BluegrassBios by Wayne Rice. It was he who inspired me to tackle the task of trying to pass on knowledge about Bluegrass music. Thanks Wayne~!
Lou Ellen Wilkie