Clarence "Tater" Tate

(bass, fiddle - 9/1956-1957, 6/29/1984-1996)
At Denton, NC, July 9, 1993. Photo by Michelle Durham.

Born: 2/4/1931    Died: 10/17/2007

As a Blue Grass Boy: Clarence "Tater" Tate (sometimes jokingly introduced by Monroe as "Tater Tater Tater Tate!") first joined the Blue Grass Boys as a fiddler in the late 50s, replacing Bobby Hicks when he was drafted. Nearly thirty years later he returned to the band, this time as a bassist. He found that bass aggravated a chronic shoulder injury less than fiddle, but when Kenny Baker left in late 1984, Tate temporarily took over the fiddling. For the rest of Monroe's life, Tate continued to switch off between bass and fiddle as needed. When another fiddler was in the band, Tater would occasionally set down the bass to play a twin-fiddle number. He also sang bass in the quartets, singing powerful "bass lead" parts on numbers like "A Beautiful Life".

Recording Sessions: 5/2/1985, 5/6/1985, 5/7/1985, 6/10/1985, 6/17/1985, 3/17/1986, 3/18/1986, 8/19/1986, 9/7/1987, 1/4/1988, 1/5/1988, 1/8/1988, 1/12/1988, 1/13/1988, 1/14/1988, 6/14/1989, 7/17/1990, 11/14/1993, 1/9/1994, 5/22/1994

Before and After: In the 50s, Tater played fiddle with performers including Hylo Brown, the Bailey Brothers, and Carl Story. He joined Red Smiley's Bluegrass Cutups in 1965, which became the Shenandoah Cutups after Smiley's retirement in 1969. In 1977 he left the Cutups to join Lester Flatt's Nashville Grass. From 1998 to 2004, he played with the Cumberland Highlanders. He also taught in the bluegrass program at ETSU.