Photo by Jon Sievert/Getty Images

Bluegrass torchbearer Molly Tuttle mourns the passing of one of the genre’s most formidable giants.

Like so many guitar players and music fans around the world, I have spent the last 48 hours mourning the loss of a man who inspired us by reaching for the outer limits—on his instrument and within himself. Tony Rice played guitar in a way no one had heard before, and in the process inspired people of all ages around the globe to pick up a dreadnought and a flatpick. Some of us, myself included, have built our lives around this inspiration and the trail Tony blazed on the instrument.

My own journey started when I was 8 years old and begged my parents for a guitar after unsuccessfully trying to learn piano. Finally, one day my dad brought home the tiniest guitar he could find, a Baby Taylor, from the music store in Palo Alto where he taught lessons. He showed me simple chords and melodies, and after the initial learning curve (and callous building) I was hooked. I played for hours every day.

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