March 29, 1989: Musician Russ Fluharty Dies

Mar 29, 2017

Fluharty learned to sing and play several instruments from his large extended family.
Credit E-WV / WV Humanities Council

Musician and folk personality Russ Fluharty died on March 29, 1989, at age 82. A lifelong resident of the Mannington area in Marion County, Fluharty learned to sing and play several instruments from his large extended family. 

In 1928, an uncle gave him an antique hammered dulcimer—an ancient instrument with many strings stretched across a box and played with small mallets. Locally, the instrument was nearly unknown, so Fluharty developed a unique playing style and taught himself to play his favorite hymns, patriotic tunes, and familiar old songs.

He was a naturally charming man, and audiences responded to his sincere, quaint manner. As interest in authentic folk music grew during the 1960s and ’70s, Fluharty—known as the “dulcimer man”—was much in demand at schools, churches, and public events.

He appeared at several national events, and the state Commerce Department sent him to other states as an “ambassador of goodwill.” He also founded the Mountaineer Dulcimer Club, which remains active.

Russ Fluharty energetically promoted West Virginia music and culture and was a key figure in the state’s folk arts revival.