Bluegrass singer and songwriter Randall Hylton died this morning (March 19) at St. Thomas Hospital in Nashville of an aneurysm. He was 56. He had been hospitalized at another area medical center for a stroke and was due to be operated on tomorrow.
Born Jan. 8, 1945, in southwestern Virginia, Hylton came to Nashville in 1973. Although he made some efforts to organize a bluegrass band, he ultimately decided to perform as a soloist, mixing his serious material with parodies and impressions. His published catalog included more than 225 songs, the most familiar of which were “Room at the Top of the Stairs,” “Slippers With Wings” and “Hallelujah Turnpike.” Among those who recorded his songs were the Lewis Family (which reportedly cut 70 of them), Ralph Stanley, the Seldom Scene, Larry Sparks, Doyle Lawson and the Country Gentlemen.
Hylton’s albums included Pickin’ in the Parlor (1994) and True Stories, Tall Tales & Lies (1996). He also recorded a video, Randall Hylton on TV, which featured 22 songs and routines. A memorial service is planned for Wednesday (March 21), but details of the event have not been made final. He is survived by his wife, Patricia, and son, Blake.
This is the second loss of a major bluegrass figure within the past week. Fiddler Benny Martin died March 13.