Cajun fiddler Rufus Thibodeaux, 71, who worked with legends ranging from Bob Wills to Neil Young, died Friday (Aug. 12) at a Nashville nursing home following a lengthy illness. Born in Ridge, La., Thibodeaux began playing fiddle at age 12 and found national fame after Jimmy C. Newman heard him performing at a South Louisiana nightclub. Thibodeaux played on many of Newman's most famous recordings, including his first major hit, 1952's "Cry, Cry Darling," and 1970's "Lache Pas la Patate," the first single sung in Cajun French to be certified gold. Thibodeaux spent much of his career working with Newman, including countless performances on the Grand Ole Opry, but his exuberant fiddling style also prompted invitations to record or tour with a wide variety of artists, including Lefty Frizzell, Jim Reeves, Carol Channing, George Jones and Hank Williams Jr. Thibodeaux's work was introduced to a rock audience when he appeared on Neil Young's 1978 album, Comes a Time. The two musicians reunited in 1985 on Young's country album, Old Ways, and Thibodeaux subsequently toured as a member of Young's band, the International Harvesters. A memorial service will be held Tuesday (Aug. 16) at Mount Olivet Funeral Home in Nashville.
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