Dobro pioneer “Uncle Josh” Graves , 73, underwent surgery Friday (Jan. 18) at Tennessee Christian Medical Center in Madison, Tenn., to amputate his second leg. Graves had left intensive care and was sleeping in a room Tuesday (Jan. 22) afternoon, friends said.
A member of the Bluegrass Hall of Honor, Graves underwent his first leg amputation last spring and recently had vein grafts to save his other leg.
“He’s been having troubles with his legs since he had a heart bypass a few years ago,” said fellow Dobro specialist Jerry Douglas . “They took a vein out of his leg to do it. His leg just never healed up.”
Douglas predicts that Graves will bounce back from the surgery, which he had anticipated for some time. “He told me he was just glad it wasn’t his hands,” Douglas said. “He’s really sad he’s not in Florida for this gig he had this weekend. He’s old school, man, he doesn’t want to miss a gig.”
Graves established the Dobro as a seminal bluegrass instrument, greatly influencing Douglas and countless other musicians. He began his professional career in 1942 and joined Flatt & Scruggs in 1955, adding a new dimension to their music and recording hundreds of sides with the duo for Columbia Records.
After Flatts & Scruggs disbanded in 1969, Graves worked with Flatt’s Nashville Grass from 1971 through 1974 before joining the Earl Scruggs Revue. Graves has since recorded and toured with other country and bluegrass artists including fiddler Kenny Baker.
Those wishing to help with Graves’ medical expenses can send donations to the Josh Graves Benefit Fund, Bank of America, 1013 16th Ave. S., Nashville, TN 37212, (615) 291-2856.