Final Notes, Fred Stoneking

Southwest Missouri fiddler Fred Stoneking passed away October 5, 2009.  Born in 1933, he grew up on a farm in Clinton, Missouri, in a large family of musicians.  His father Lee Stoneking was a well-known fiddler in Missouri who, when Fred was young, led various band configurations of his children for dance halls in Deepwater and Urich.  Community square dances were still held in homes during Fred’s childhood, and Fred remembered hearing fiddle music in many doorways.  Fred fought in the Korean War in early 1950s, and after that lived in California, Wyoming, and for twelve years in Arizona.  He eventually moved back to Clinton, and worked as a welding foreman for 18 years.  He was primarily a guitarist until the mid-1960s, when he started to see prize money for fiddle contests rising.  He won his first fiddle contest in 1966, beating his father (who was proud of the fact).  After a short stay in Nebraska, he retired in Springfield where he focused more on fiddle playing, judging contests, and fiddle repair work.  In nearby Branson he was occasionally seen playing at Silver Dollar City, the Shepherd of the Hills theater, and with the Horse Creek Band.  In 1996, Rounder released an album of Fred’s fiddle playing called Saddle Old Spike (Rounder 0381).  His children Alita and Luke have continued his legacy as musicians, and Alita in particular is known as one of the country’s top contest fiddlers.

Drew Beisswenger


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