Clarence Howard Greene died on December 11, 2009, at the age of 64, in Hickory, North Carolina. The son of Fiddling Clarence Greene, who recorded with Clarence Tom Ashley, Greene grew up in Mitchell County, North Carolina. He began to study music seriously as a young teenager, and often played with his father for dances in Little Switzerland
In addition to playing the guitar, Greene was a talented musician on the banjo, which he played with a flat pick, and the mandolin. He played for many years with the Toe River Valley Boys. With another group of musicians, Greene was part of the first bluegrass band to play at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. In more recent years, he led the bluegrass band Clarence Greene and Southbound. Greene was an experienced writer and newspaper editor, who also operated a music and pawn shop.
Clarence Greene explained a couple of years ago to folklorist Mark Freed why he liked old-time and bluegrass music. “Once you do it, you can’t quit. That’s the happiest I am, when I’m playing.”