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  • Born

    26 March 1940

  • Born In

    Durham, Durham County, North Carolina, United States

  • Died

    2 May 2019 (aged 79)

John Starling (March 26, 1940 - May 2, 2019) was an American bluegrass musician and composer, and a founding member of the bluegrass group The Seldom Scene. He also had a medical profession as an otolaryngologist.

John Starling was born in Durham, North Carolina. After completing medical school, he served in the U.S. Army as a surgeon in Vietnam.

Following his tour of duty, he did his residency at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. In Washington he met fellow musicians Mike Auldridge and Ben Eldridge. The three began making music together after work and eventually were joined in this activity by two former members of the bluegrass band The Country Gentlemen, John Duffey and Tom Gray. Soon, the five musicians formed The Seldom Scene. In 1977, Starling left the band, deciding to, in his words, “do what I was originally trying to do, which was practice medicine.” Starling returned to The Seldom Scene briefly in 1993 to fill in following the departure of singer and guitarist Lou Reid, while continuing his medical practice.

In 2006, following his retirement from his medical practice, Starling resumed his musical career, teaming with former Seldom Scene members Mike Auldridge and Tom Gray, along with Jimmie Gaudreau and Ricky Simpkins, to form a new bluegrass band, John Starling and Carolina Star.

John Starling died in May 2019.

Starling shared the 1992 Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album with Carl Jackson for their album Spring Training.

Solo albums
1980: Long Time Gone (Sugar Hill SH-3714)
1982: Waitin’ On A Southern Train (Sugar Hill SH-3724)
As a member of The Seldom Scene
1972: Act I (Rebel REB-1511)
1973: Act II (Rebel REB-1520)
1973: Act III (Rebel REB-1528)
1974: Old Train (Rebel REB-1536)
1975: Live at The Cellar Door (Rebel REB-1547/8 live double album)
1976: The New Seldom Scene Album (Rebel REB-1561)
1978: Baptizing (Rebel||REB-1573)
1994: Like We Used to Be (Sugar Hill SH-3822)

With Carl Jackson
1991: Spring Training (Sugar Hill SH-3789)
As a member of John Starling and Carolina Star
1991: Slidin’ Home (Rebel REB-CD-1820)

Other contributions
1975: Elite Hotel - acoustic guitarist, backing vocalist
1977: California Autumn - producer, mixer, guitar and vocal accompaninist
1987: Trio (Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris album) - acoustic guitar accompanist and musical consultant
1995: Feels Like Home (Linda Ronstadt album) - backing vocalist

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