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Robert Byrd

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Robert Carlyle Byrd (born November 20, 1917 – June 28, 2010) was a senior United States Senator from West Virginia, and a member and former Senate Leader of the Democratic Party. Byrd had been a Senator since January 3, 1959, and was the longest-serving Senator as well as the longest-serving member in congressional history.

Byrd was an avid fiddle player for most of his life, starting in his teens when he played in various square dance bands. Once he entered politics, he used his fiddling skills to attract attention and win votes. In 1978 when Byrd was Majority Leader, he recorded an album called U.S. Senator Robert Byrd: Mountain Fiddler (County, 1978). Byrd was accompanied by Country Gentlemen Doyle Lawson, James Bailey, and Spider Gilliam. Most of the LP consists of “old-timey” mountain music. In his old age, he could no longer play the fiddle due to the symptoms of a benign essential tremor that affected his hands. Prior to that, he would occasionally take a break from Senate business to entertain audiences with his fiddle.

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