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Remembering Buck Trent: A Banjo Legend and Branson Icon

The echo of his banjo will forever resonate in our hearts

3 minute read

It is with a heavy heart that we share the news of the passing of American country music instrumentalist and entertainer, Buck Trent. He passed away on October 9, 2023, at the age of 85 in Branson, Missouri. His wife and best friend, Jean, was by his side. Born Charles Wilburn Trent in Spartanburg, South Carolina, on February 17, 1938, Buck's love for music began at an early age. His mother bought him his first banjo after he promised her that he would make a living from it. Buck started performing at the age of 10 on radio and at age 17, he went to Asheville, North Carolina, to perform with Cousin Wilbur and Blondie Brooks. In 1959, he moved to Nashville and joined the Bill Carlisle Show, making his first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. During his time in Nashville, Buck invented the electric banjo, which revolutionized the sound of country music. He joined the Porter Wagoner Show in 1962, where he developed his signature sound by twisting strings and pushing levers to resemble the sound of a steel guitar. When Dolly Parton joined the lineup on the Porter Wagoner Show, Buck played on the recordings of many of her enormous hits, including "I Will Always Love You," "Jolene," "Coat of Many Colors," "Mule Skinner Blues," and "My Tennessee Mountain Home". In 1974, Buck joined forces with Roy Clark, and they became the first country music act to tour the Soviet Union. They released two albums together and received the Country Music Association’s Instrumentalist Group of the Year Awards in 1975 and 1976. Buck became a regular on the long-running Hee-Haw show, where his "Talking Blues" was a fan favorite. In 1991, Buck was the first national star to open a breakfast theater show in Branson, MO, which ran until 2019, becoming one of the longest-running morning shows in Branson’s history. Recently, Branson Mayor proclaimed December 13 as “Buck Trent Day” in Branson. On Friday, Oct. 13, 2023, the American Banjo Museum in Oklahoma City will posthumously induct Buck into the Banjo Hall of Fame for his five-string banjo performance. Buck is survived by his wife Jean Marie Trent; son Charles William Trent (Kim) of Lebanon TN; Daughter Melissa Trent Hood (David) of Hermitage TN; Grandchildren: Ben Trent of Nashville TN; Heather Hood Hamilton (Stevie) of LaVergne, TN; Amber Hood Vargas (Jose) of Lebanon TN; Laura Trent Yandell (Sebastian) of Mount Juliet TN; Great Grandchildren: Cruz Vargas, Sophia Vargas, Jamison Yandell, and Graysen Yandell; Nephews: Ronnie Hyatt (Elizabeth), Danny Hyatt of Greenville, SC; Niece: Diane Hyatt Coggins - Spartanburg, SC; Brothers-in-law Ron Revard (Jan); Paul Revard ( Kim); Kent Revard (Tracy); Mark Revard (Laurie); and numerous nieces and nephews. Services for Buck will take place in Nashville TN at the Spring Hill Funeral Home and Cemetery on Saturday, Oct 21, 2023. In lieu of flowers, donations to honor Buck’s memory may be made to Marty Stuart’s Congress of Country Music. Buck Trent's passing is a great loss to the music industry and the Branson community. His legacy will continue to inspire future generations of musicians. The echo of his banjo will forever resonate in our hearts.

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