I came back as often as I could after that, and tried to learn as much as I could about the old times (and old tunes) around the Galax area. He was full of stories, and it seemed that over the next few years, when I thought that he had played all the tunes he knew, he would relate a story about some event or another, and then another tune I had never heard came out of his fiddle.
Another time during the Galax Convention in 1980 brought a group of us out to his farm, and we stayed all day. After eleven hours, he was still wanting to play, and we (all at least 60 years his junior) were worn out.
Luther died in the evening of September 16, 1986, five days past his 99th birthday. He was a perfectionist, right up to the end, always sure to tell you if "you got the tune right". I'm still trying to do just that.
There is an excellent recording of Luther, with an extensive book detailing much of Luther's life and his recollection of growing up in the Blue Ridge mountains. There are many wonderful photographs also. The record hopefully is still in print, and can be found as follows:
C/O Heritage Records
Route 3 Box 260
Galax, Virginia 24333
There is another recording featuring musicians from the Grayson-Carroll County area, and Luther plays a few tunes on this record:
One Camp Street
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02140
© 1997 Don Mussell