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Reno, Don (1926-1984)

Reno, Don (1926-1984)

An early pioneer of bluegrass banjo playing, Don Reno had an instantly identifiable approach to the instrument that was widely admired but seldom imitated. After a brief stint with Bill Monroe in the late 1940s, Reno formed a highly productive partnership with guitarist/singer Red Smiley, and the two made well over 100 influential recordings in the 1950s and early 1960s. When Smiley's health failed, Reno took his tenor vocalizing and banjo style—an innovative blend of country and jazz chording and single-string, guitar-like picking—into a partnership with Bill Harrell, following that with a solo career that lasted until his death. Ironically, it was a casual, short-term studio partnership with Arthur Smith that produced one of Reno's most enduring and influential recordings, the original version of the widely known "Dueling Banjos."

—Jon Weisberger

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