Musician Henry Reed Dies: June 16, 1968

Josh and Henry Reed

On June 16, 1968, musician Henry Reed died in Glen Lyn, Virginia, at age 84. He was born and grew up in Monroe County, where he learned local tunes dating back generations.

One example is “Quince Dillion’s High-D Tune,” which Reed supposedly learned from a veteran of the Mexican War and Civil War.

Reed played the fiddle, banjo, and harmonica. His music ranged from old frontier songs, to songs of the late 19th century, to 20th-century country and bluegrass tunes. He never made commercial records but was recorded in the mid-‘60s by Duke University graduate student Alan Jabbour.

Thanks to Jabbour’s efforts, Henry Reed’s catalog of songs became popular during the old-time music revival of the late 20th century. One of his songs, “Over the Waterfall,” is now a fiddle standard.

Many of Henry Reed’s recordings are now available on the Library of Congress Web site.