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In the 1960s and 1970s, Randy Wood was a forerunner in the vintage instrument industry. Known as the instrument repairman to the stars, the list of Wood’s clients reads like a Hall of Fame roster: Elvis Presley, Eric Clapton, Johnny Cash, Chet Atkins, Emmylou Harris, Billy Gibbons, Bill Monroe, Keith Richards, Roy Acuff, Ricky Skaggs, and Hank Williams Jr. . . . to name a few. In Randy Wood: The Lore of the Luthier, Daniel Wile traces the life and work of a man who quietly influenced a hidden history of bluegrass and country music.
In his twenties, Wood vowed to avoid complacency in his work. What started simply as a quest to find fulfillment turned into a career that has shaped a generation of musicians, professional and amateur alike. Through his incredible gift for lutherie, Wood brought cherished pre-WWII instruments back to life, many of which were considered beyond repair. He crafted his own instruments as well, based on what he learned from vintage instruments, and these instruments found their way into the hands of some of the most renowned musicians, thanks in part to Wood’s strategic location in Nashville during the resurgence of country music in the 1970s. Humble, unassuming, and unfazed by the presence of celebrities, Wood has spent his life devoted to building and repairing stringed instruments.
Wood also built community. After tiring of big-city Nashville, he retreated to the Georgia coast, where his home shop became a hub of bluegrass activity. He eventually opened a new shop near Savannah, where a new generation of friends and strangers can come in, visit, and pick a little. Randy’s stories, complemented with those of his friends and family, create a compelling picture of a modest man with a talent for his craft, a genuine care for people, and the courage to follow his passion.
DANIEL WILE has written for Bluegrass Unlimited, Vintage Guitar, and The Bluegrass Standard. He is president of Southern Cast Products, a steel foundry in Meridian, Mississippi.