Print | Back to e-WV The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Lilly Brothers


Lilly_bros_up_medium

The Lilly Brothers were an early West Virginia bluegrass band. Mitchell Burt ‘‘Bea’’ (1921–2005) and Charles Everett Lilly (1924–2012) were born at Clear Creek, Raleigh County. In their mid-teens they developed a mandolin-guitar harmony duet and worked occasionally on radio at WCHS Charleston and WHIS Bluefield, and especially at WJLS Beckley from April 1939. They also worked at WNOX Knoxville with Molly O’Day and Lynn Davis. In 1948, the Lilly Brothers moved to WWVA Wheeling where they worked with Red Belcher for two years. Everett also served two stints as mandolinist with Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs.

Between 1952 and 1970, the Lilly Brothers, along with West Virginia banjoist Don Stover (1928–96), made their biggest impact in Boston, where they introduced bluegrass to New England audiences. In this period they recorded for the Event, Folkways, Prestige, and County record labels. In 1970, Everett’s son, Jiles, died in an auto crash, and the distraught father decided to return to Raleigh County. Afterward, the Lilly Brothers played together infrequently, mostly at bluegrass festivals and on a 1973 tour of Japan. Everett remained active with his sons and others in bands known as Clear Creek Crossing and the Lilly Mountaineers. In 2002, the Lilly Brothers and Don Stover were inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Hall of Honor. In 2008, the Lilly Brothers, along with Don Stover, were inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame.

 

e-WV presents West Virginia Public Broadcasting on the Lilly Brothers radio debut

 

Written by Ivan M. Tribe

Sources

  1. Tribe, Ivan M. Mountaineer Jamboree: Country Music in West Virginia. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1984.