old-time fiddler, Chattanooga
Tennessee Folklife Heritage Award (2001)
Fiddler Bob Douglas (1900-2001) lived a remarkable musical life. As a boy, he accompanied his fiddling father to play for community dances on Walden’s Ridge and in the Sequatchie Valley. As young man, he rubbed shoulders with pioneers of recorded hillbilly music, and he was likely the first musician to play on the radio in Chattanooga. He remained a popular broadcast and dance band figure there for decades and gave the Louvin Brothers their first job. When the Tennessee Valley Old-Time Fiddlers Association revived interest in his musical form beginning in the 1960s, Douglas was a regular winner at sponsored contests. His huge tune repertory spanned the several epochs of his career, and he was a repeat performer at the Smithsonian Festival of American Folklife. Inspiring many younger musicians, he remained a vigorous player until the end of his life, performing for the first time on the Grand Ole Opry at age 100.