John Duffey: 1934 to 1996
It was a hard year in bluegrass. John Duffey, founder of the Seldom Scene, died December 10, 1996, from complications of a heart attack. He was 62.
Duffey was an original member of the Country Gentlemen, who formed in 1957. He left the band in 1969 and tried to retire into something like a normal life that didn’t involve long drives and strange hotel rooms. Two years later, an impromptu jam session got carried away and the Seldom Scene were born.
Anchored by Duffey’s mandolin and soaring vocals, the Seldom Scene became leaders of the flourishing Washington, D.C., bluegrass community. They made a bunch of fine records, survived the usual personnel turnover, and mostly just brought a whole lot of pleasure into the world.
Duffey, along with the original Country Gentlemen, was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Hall of Fame last September.