Clinch Mountain Echo

Roy Lee Centers - Last show with Ralph?

Ralph, Roy Lee & Jack Cooke - McClure festival 1972

Roy Lee Centers was just 29 when he was brutally murdered in the early hours of May 2nd 1974. The CMB's had just completed a short West Coast [1] tour including three appearances at the 'Golden State Country Bluegrass Festival' in San Rafael, CA (Friday, April 26th to Sunday, April 28th).

I was trying to answer a query on the Banjo Hangout when I discovered Jerry Garcia's Middle Finger blogspot & details of a 17m recording of part of the CMB's last set from the festival on the 28th April. Afterwards the band flew home for a break, which means this is almost certainly Roy Lee's last show with Ralph.

Given the significance of the performance, I just had to try and get a copy & find a home for it... so I've pulled out my finger and decided to start this website...

Other artists featured on the festival included: Bear Creek Boys; Buck White and the Down Home Folks; Cornbread; Doc & Merle Watson; Donna Washburn, Doug Dillard and the Intruders; Emmylou Harris; Frank Wakefield; Great American String Band; Greenbriar Boys w/ Vassar Clements; High Country; Homestead Act; Jim & Jesse; Jimmy Martin; John Hartford; Mac Wiseman; Maria Muldaur; Nitty Gritty Dirt Band; Norman Blake & Tut Taylor; Old and In the Way; Ramblin' Jack Elliott; Rick Shubb & The Hired Hands [2]; Skunk Cabbage and Wild Eyed Hippy Stompers...

A couple of sets have appeared on youtube including John Hartford's 28th April set and 3 hours 50 mins of various artists (shown in bold above).

The JGMF blogsite has a lot of info about the festival including scans of the festival program. According to JGMF the concert was taped and filmed, with view to a professional release, but the whereabouts are not known...

The set is also notable for featuring Cheryl White, filling in for Jack Cooke, on bass...

Many thanks to JGMF for the tape...

Use the controls below to listen to the set:-

Bluegrass Unlimited Advert March 1974 Bluegrass Unlimited Advert April 1974 Festival poster


  1. Cacklin Hen
  2. Maple On The Hill
  3. Introductions
  4. Hemlocks & Primroses
  5. Stone Walls & Steel Bars
  6. Bill Cheatum
  7. Nobody's Love Is Like Mine
  8. Man Of Constant Sorrow (fragment)

Or click on the links below to download the files:-

Download FLAC files Zip file (98.1Mb)

Download MP3 files Zip file (38.5Mb)

{1] Ralph was listed in the Mar. 1974 edition of Bluegrass Unlimited (BU) as playing at a festival at Hiawassee, Ga. sometime between the Fri. 19th - Sun 21st April. Following the 'Golden State Country Bluegrass Festival', their next advertised festival show (April edition) is 16th-19th May (Thur - Sun) at the 4th Annual Montgomery County Bluegrass Festival near Troy, NC, with Ralph's 4th Annual memorial festival the following weekend.
In Eddie Dean's "Man Of Constant Sorrow - My Life & Times" book, Ralph says (p316) "We had just flown from a tour of the West Coast. All the boys had gone back home to rest up for a few days until our show the next week." & (p324) "Roy Lee's funeral was on the Sunday (5th). We had a show on the coming Saturday (11th) in Mississippi and Keith (Whitely) played with us."
For more details see the Bluegrass Unlimited (July 2003) article "The Death Of Roy Lee Centers" by Kenneth D. Tunnell and Terry C. Cox which is available as a pdf from the author at:

[2] Rick Shubb did the awesome poster for the festival, having previously done a few posters for the iconic San Francisco Carousel Ballroom. He is also the creator of the ubiquitous 'Shubb Capo'.