Final Notes, Red Wilson

Fiddler Oscar “Red” Wilson died on June 6, 2005. Born in 1920, he was drafted into the army at age 21. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor he was sent overseas to North Africa and then to Sicily where he was seriously injured by a mortar shell. As one of three survivors of his battalion he spent two years recuperating in an Alabama hospital before returning home. For his service and sacrifices he was honored with the Purple Heart.

After returning from the war, having to still walk with crutches, he met and fell in love with Marie Greene, who became Marie Wilson on April 5, 1945. They have two children and two grandchildren. Over the course of their 60-year marriage, Marie heard Red play many a fiddle tune.

Before the age of 10, Red purchased his first guitar from Spiegel with a down payment of $5.00 and $5.00 monthly payments. He became a professional musician for a time, toured and recorded, and was a member of the Toe River Valley Boys. He performed often with Bruce Greene and Rob Levin. He influenced many local musicians including Bruce, Trevor and Travis Stuart, David Holt, and others. In 2003 he was a recipient of the NC Heritage Award and was recognized by the NC Arts Council as a Living Legend. Also, he was a master fiddle maker and was the owner/operator of Mayland Recording Studios. Many will remember him from the square dances he played at Geneva Hall in Little Switzerland, and Penland School of Arts & Crafts.

Visiting with Red and Marie in their home near Spruce Pine, NC, meant walking into a home filled with love, warmth, and music. “I just love old-time fiddle music. And I love people.” His spirit and music will live on in our mountains forever.

—from the funeral program for Red Wilson


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