John David Miller, age 91 of Mouth of Wilson, VA went home to be with the Lord, April 13, 2021. John was born August 28, 1929 in Delaware to the late John Walter and Bertha Elizabeth Koffman Miller. Sheetrock hanger and finisher by trade, John was very early introduced to the love of music, had a natural gift with string instruments and provided nearly a century of entertainment to family and friends alike.
John was a card carrying lifetime member with The Moose and the American Federation of Musicians.
By 14 years of age, John was traveling making music with familiar names in the early days of bluegrass.
A time with The North Carolina Ridge Runners in 1947, Roma Jackson and the Tennessee Mountain Boys or with Del McCoury and others provided him a foothold in mountain music.
By 1966, Ola Belle Reed and Alex Campbell chose him to play on WASA Radio with coverage between Baltimore and Wilmington, DE. Ola Belle is quoted saying, John’s fiddling was more old-timey and “shuffly”, less silky and jazzy than his brother, Sonny’s (9 siblings and all played something) and he didn’t flat-pick a guitar… but played in the old mountain way, without picks, finger-style: she said.
John helped build and performed at The New River Ranch and Sunset Park in Rising Sun, Maryland. Sunset Park which hosted, then young talents, like Loretta Lynn, Conway Twitty, Dolly Parton, George Jones, Merle Haggard, The Stanley Brothers, The Osborne Brothers, Don Reno and Red Smiley (just naming a few), and John talked of fond memories he carried throughout his life of having been a part of the music.
Fiddlers Conventions saw him through the 70’s as a member with North Carolina based the High County Ramblers as well as having played a presidential inauguration at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC where in 2019 The Library of Congress National Recording Registry chose the Ola Belle Reed album, featuring John on fiddle, representing bluegrass for generations to come.
In 2002 Kennesaw State University included John’s “behind the practice of old time music” experiences publishing in the University of Tennessee Press.
Albert Hash Festivals and picking in parking lots, waiting for the next set, was some of many favorite times. John loved fishing as well and cutting up, swapping guitars for fiddles or banjos and bases at family gatherings, always coming back to fiddle, enjoying the talent of his siblings and their children’s talents with the next generation.
We’ll miss you and your music; Fiddle Man. Deeply loved and fondly remembered.
Preceded in death by his parents, wife, Frances Pate Miller and two sons, J. D. Miller Jr. and Walter Uriah Miller, and granddaughter, Amanda Lyn Taylor.
Left to honor his memory; two daughters, Anita Lynn Taylor and husband, Elwood of Lansing and Annette D. Heath and husband Carl of Chilhowie, VA, 2 grandsons, Uriah Seth Miller of VA and Tim Miller of Lansing, granddaughter, Amber Elizabeth Miller of Jacksonville, FL. Several great-grandchildren also survive.
Mr. Miller will lie in state on Sunday, April 18, 2021 from 12:00-2:00 pm at Badger Funeral Home. The family will not be present.
A private family graveside service will be held in the Miller Hamm Cemetery in Lansing by Rev. Doug Halsey.
The family respectfully request no food please. Memorials may be made to the family, c/o Badger Funeral Home, 300 E. Main Street, West Jefferson, NC 28694.
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