Roy Acuff was synonymous with the fiddle. It was his constant companion, and when he wasn’t playing it on songs like “Night Train to Memphis,” it was in his hand. Or sometimes, balanced on his chin. On Wednesday, the Country Music Hall of Fame received one of Acuff’s fiddles for its permanent collection.
Vince Gill came into possession of the fiddle this year (he purchased it from the granddaughter of Bashful Brother Oswald, a member of Acuff’s Smokey Mountain Boys) and knew there was only one home for the instrument. “It felt important to me that the great Roy Acuff’s fiddle join the ranks of other revered instruments in the museum’s permanent collection — including Maybelle Carter’s 1928 Gibson L-5 guitar and Bill Monroe’s 1923 Gibson F-5 mandolin,” Gill said in a statement.
Acuff, a member of the Grand Ole Opry and a frequent USO performer, first received this particular fiddle as a gift from American soldiers in Germany during World War II. Gill, who was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2007, talked at length about the fiddle in a new video produced by the museum.
“The great thing about instruments is the stories they tell,” he says. “They’re going to outlive us all. If you take care of an instrument it’ll last longer than we will.”
Acuff was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1962 as its first living member. He died in 1992.