Don Maddox, Country Music Pioneer & Legendary Fiddler, Dies at 98

by Clayton Edwards

 Don Maddox, the last surviving member of the influential hillbilly band Maddox Brothers and Rose passed away at the age of 98. He and his siblings made a place for country music in California. His passing marks the end of an era in not just country music, but American music as a whole.

Don Maddox died in his hometown of Ashland, Oregon on September 12. However, no outlets have reported his cause of death. On the other hand, how he died isn’t a pressing matter. How Don lived, on the other hand, is important.

The Maddox family moved to California from Boaz, Alabama in the 1930s. There, Don and the other Maddox siblings knew they wanted more out of life than farming. As a result, they set their sights on the entertainment world, according to Saving Country Music. Before long, they took the stage as The Maddox Brothers and Rose. After some time, Don dubbed them, “The most colorful hillbilly band in the world.” The description is still fitting nearly a century later.

Ken Burns included Don Maddox in his massive country music documentary. Country legend Marty Stuart spoke about him a little. He highlighted just how important the Maddox family band was to American music.

Legends Looked Up to Don Maddox and the Band

“Everything that went on to become Bakersfield, everything that went on to become the West Coast sound, everything that went on to become anything that had to do with country music in California, you go back to The Maddox Brothers and Rose. That’s who we owe a debt of gratitude to.”

Later in the episode, Stuart recalled a conversation he had with Merle Haggard about Don Maddox and the band. Stuart and his band had just finished a long run of shows in California. They played to packed houses every night. So, he called Merle Haggard, one of the biggest names connected to the Bakersfield Sound. He wanted to thank him for blazing a trail for country music on the coast.

Merle Haggard told him, “I’ll take [the gratitude], but who you really need to call is the Maddox Brothers and Rose because there was no country music trail out here before them.”

However, they didn’t just lay the groundwork for country music in California. Don Maddox sat down with Saving Country Music in 2012. During that interview, he talked about sharing the stage with a young Elvis Presley when he was just starting his career.

Like many other country bands, Maddox Brothers and Rose wore Nudie Suits. The fancy sequined outfits caught Elvis’ eye. At that time, he was performing in his street clothes, according to Don Maddox. Before taking the stage, the Maddox band hung their jackets up in the dressing room. When they finished their set, they found Elvis parading around in one of their jackets saying, “One of these days, I’m going to get a fancy outfit like this.”

Don Maddox’s graveside service will take place on Monday, September 27 at 11 am at Scenic Hills Memorial Park in Ashland. It will include full military honors and be open to all who wish to attend, according to Mail Tribune.