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Billy Lee Cox

Billy Lee started playing the banjo at age 11. He would go with his family to country dances that his Uncle "Sock" would play the banjo for. He was hooked on the banjo. When Uncle "Sock" gave Billy his old banjo and said: "if you learn how to play this I'll give it to you". That was all it took. At age 13 Billy played his first show with Calvin Crane who invited him to be his Special guest. The banjo Billy plays is the one Calvin gave to Billy a few years ago. Billy considers his Uncle, Calvin, Eddy Hoover and his cousin Doc as major influences in his musical endeavors. Growing up listening to Flatt and Scruggs Billy learned as fast as possible. Then one day at Uncle "Socks" he heard Don Reno on record. He was hooked and started learning the Reno style. After entering the Air Force in 1969 Billy was stationed in Newport News, Va. He started playing with George Harris and the Shade Tree Boys. George and the group backed Billy up in 1973 when he won the National Banjo Championship in Warrenton, Va. Billy went on to play for Chief Powhatan in Richmond, VA. Then went on to play with Charlie Moore and the Dixie Partners off and on for a little over a year. Then Billy filled in for the Country Gentleman where he was offered the job as a Country Gentleman. Due to just having his first child Billy had to turn them down. Mr. Bill Yates, who was the bass player for the Country Gentleman, and Billy have remained friends and picking buddies since that time and still do a few shows together during the year. In 1976 Billy started the Mason Dixon Grass and fronted that band for over 25 years with Francis Elliott. One of the players from the MDG is the "Champ" Randie Rineer who is the fiddler for Sunnyside.  Billy has had the priviledge of playing in 4 different countries and many of the Eastern states of the USA. Refered to as "one of the stylist for Bluegrass Music in the North Eastern part of the US" by Carl Goldstein, Bluegrass radio host and long time Bluegrass promoter in the Northeast. Billy has recorded for many people over the years.

"When I first met Billy Lee was in the 70's when I was with the Country Gentlemen. We needed a banjo picker and Billy Lee was there and offered to help. I was amazed at what a great banjo picker he was. I did not see Billy for a few years. I ran into him at a festival and we had a jam session that lasted about all night. I would also like to let you know that he was voted National Champion Banjo Picker.

Mr. Bill Yates and Billy Lee

Thanks for being such a good friend of the Reno Family and thanks for playing a lot of dad's style on the banjo. Not many people can play dad's stuff but I've always enjoyed your playing. Thanks again Billy and hope to see you sometime soon.
Ronnie Reno

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