Don Reno

(banjo, guitar - 3/1948-7/1949)
Photo by Jim Peva.

Born: 2/21/1927    Died: 10/16/1984

As a Blue Grass Boy: Don Reno first met Bill Monroe in 1943; Monroe offered him a job then, but Reno was about to enter the service. Out of the service in 1948, he replaced Earl Scruggs. In addition to playing banjo, Reno sang lead and played guitar on gospel quartets. Monroe said of him "He would drive the banjo hard, and he was a good singer." He was with Monroe for over a year, but they never recorded during that time.

Before and After: In the early 1940s, Don Reno played with the Morris Brothers; when he left that band he was replaced by Earl Scruggs. He also played briefly with guitarist Arthur Smith. After leaving the Blue Grass Boys, he formed the Tennessee Buddies with childhood friend Tommy Magness. It was in that group that he met Red Smiley, which whom he began a long partnership. Reno and Smiley recorded many bluegrass classics, including "I'm Using My Bible For a Roadmap", "Banjo Signal", and "I Know You're Married". After Smiley's retirement, Reno teamed up with Bill Harrell for several years.

Honors: Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Hall of Fame (1984); SPBGMA Preservation Hall of Greats (1985); IBMA Hall of Fame (1992)

Links: Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum profile
Wikipedia entry