Bluegrass Banjoist Ray Goins Dead at 71

Ray Goins, a bluegrass music pioneer who played in the Lonesome Pine Fiddlers and the Goins Brothers, died Monday (July 2) at a Pikeville, Ky., hospital following a lengthy illness. He was 71. Born Jan. 3, 1936, in Bramwell, W. Va., Ray Elwood Goins joined the Lonesome Pine Fiddlers as a banjo player in the early 1950s. His older brother, Melvin, was already a member of the bluegrass group. As part of that band, the Goins brothers recorded two sessions for RCA in 1952. When the Fiddlers relocated to Detroit in 1953, the siblings formed the first Goins Brothers band. The brothers rejoined the Fiddlers for two additional RCA recording sessions in 1954 before reverting to their own identity in the mid-1950s. Ray left the music business in 1964 but returned to performing with his brother in 1969. During the remainder of their career together, the Goins Brothers recorded albums for the Rem, Jessup-Michigan, Rebel, Old Homestead, Vetco and Hey Holler labels. Ray suffered a heart attack in 1994 and retired from touring in the late 1990s. He did, however, continue to make occasional appearances with his brother. He is survived by his wife, Helen, a son, two daughters, five grandchildren, seven brothers and a sister. Burial will take place Friday (July 6) in the Coleman Family Cemetery in Rockhouse, Ky.