James Melvin West

James Melvin West (1928-1988) was born and raised in Rising Fawn, Ga. He was the 4th of nine children belonging to William Roy and Laura Mae Forester West. He attended Rising Fawn Elementary School through the 8th grade, and then went to Berry School in Rome, Ga., where he worked and finished high school. After graduation, he joined the U.S. Navy where he served his country for four years. Upon returning he met and married Frances Irene Welch from Chickamauga, Ga. Together they lived and raised their family of three daughters in Dade County, for 48 years.

Jim’s love of music began when he picked up a guitar while in the Navy. He never had formal lessons, but had a natural “ear” it. There wasn’t an instrument that he couldn’t master. He simply listened for the right sound. He loved to play the piano, the organ, the steel guitar, fiddle, mandolin, as well as a variety of horns. He’s probably best remembered for playing his big “Blonde” Bass Fiddle. He spent many nights enjoying playing with his buddies, Don Everett, Tillman Reeves, Freddy Byers, and Darrell Hughes, calling themselves the “Dade County Boys”. Their love of Bluegrass and good country music , drew huge crowds, some readily joining in, others eager to learn, some going on to be big name musicians.

Jim eagerly took part playing for Fiddle Conventions, Oprys, and “Hoot-n-nannys”. He never made a big name for himself, or a lot of money, but he spent a lot of his time doing what he loved–playing music! Jim West will always be remembered for his warm smile, generous heart, and sharing his talent with all those who would listen.

Submitted by Martha Bradford

James Melvin West

James Melvin West




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