Final Notes, Vernon Riddle

Vernon Riddle, 76, of Spartanburg, South Carolina, died on Sunday, July 31, 2011, at his home, after a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease. Born January 28, 1935, in Glendale, South Carolina, he was the son of the late George Wilson and Julia Ruth Sherbert Riddle.


Vernon was known to the traditional music community as a fine Texas-style old-time fiddler. While he was serving in the US Air Force and stationed in Texas from 1955 to 1975, he developed and refined his fiddling style by spending lots of time with Eck Robertson, Jack Mears, Benny Thomasson, Texas Shorty, Vernon and Norman Solomon, and others. Vernon played many of Eck Robertson’s old tunes that might otherwise have been forgotten. Vernon was a quiet and soft-spoken person, but he was always willing to share his music with others. In 2010 the Field Recorders’ Collective released a CD of his fiddling from the 1960s through the early 1990s. In addition to placing in many Texas fiddle contests in the 1960s and ‘70s, Vernon won the South Carolina State Fiddling Competition Championship, and the Lunsford Award for Significant Contributions in Music in 2007, and he was a recipient of the Jean Laney Harris FolkHeritage Award from the State of South Carolina in 1999.

Vernon was a graduate of Spartanburg Technical College, and worked as an Administration Technician for more than 20 years. He was a member of Calvary Baptist Church-Cowpens, and a former deacon, Sunday School teacher, and song leader.

Survivors include his wife, Ruth Riddle; a sister, Emma Jett of Glendale, South Carolina; sister-in-law Cecelia Riddle of Spartanburg; three stepsons; and several step-grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his first wife, Grace Riddle; a sister, Evelyn Jett; and a brother, Paul Riddle.

-Ashley Carder


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