World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Don Reno

Don Reno
Birth name Donald Wesley Reno
Born (1927-02-21)February 21, 1927
Buffalo, South Carolina, United States
Origin Haywood County, North Carolina, United States
Died October 16, 1984(1984-10-16) (aged 57)
Genres Bluegrass Music, Gospel Music, Country Gospel
Occupation(s) musician
Instruments 5-string banjo, acoustic guitar
Years active 1939–1984
Labels King, Starday, Monument, Jalyn, CMH
Associated acts The Morris Brothers, Arthur Smith, Bill Monroe, Red Smiley, Reno and Smiley, Bill Harrell, Reno & Harrell, Frank Wakefield, Don Wayne Reno
Notable instruments
"Nellie," a 1935/36 Gibson RB-3/RB-75 flathead previously owned by Earl Scruggs,[1] 1933/34 Gibson RB-Granada banjo

Don Wesley Reno (February 21, 1927[2] – October 16, 1984) was an American bluegrass and country musician best known as a banjo player in partnership with Red Smiley, and later with guitarist Bill Harrell.


  • Biography 1
  • Discography 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • Further reading 5
  • External links 6


Born in Buffalo, South Carolina, Don Reno grew up on a farm in Haywood County, North Carolina. He began playing the banjo at the age of five. His father gave him a guitar four years later; and in 1939 12-year-old Reno joined the Morris Brothers in performing at a local radio station.[3] He left one year later to join Arthur Smith,[2] with whom he would years later record "Feudin' Banjos". In 1943 he received an offer from Bill Monroe to become a member of the Bluegrass Boys, but chose instead to enlist in the United States Army. Trained as a horse soldier at Fort Riley, Kansas, he was sent to the Pacific Theater to fight on foot.[2] He eventually served in Merrill's Marauders and was wounded in action.[4]

Influenced by old-time banjo player Snuffy Jenkins and others, Reno developed his own three finger "single-string" style that allowed him to play scales and complicated fiddle tunes note-for-note. The Reno style encompasses much more than just single-string picking; double-stops, double-time picking, triple-pull offs—all of these, and other techniques make Reno's playing recognizable. According to his son, Don Wayne Reno, "My dad told me more than once that the reason he started his own style of banjo picking was this: When he came out of the service, many people said 'You sound just like Earl Scruggs.' He said that really bothered him considering he never played a banjo while he was in the service, and when he returned to the U.S., he continued to play in the style he had always played before."[4][5]

In 1948, Reno became a member of the Blue Grass Boys. Two years later, with Red Smiley, he formed Reno and Smiley and the Tennessee Cutups, a partnership that lasted fourteen years. Among their hits were "I'm Using My Bible For A Road Map", "I Wouldn't Change You If I Could" and "Don't Let Your Sweet Love Die". Included in this lineup was his son, Ronnie Reno, who played mandolin. Videos from those days are shown regularly on Ronnie's show on RFD-TV. In 1964, after the retirement of Red Smiley, Reno and guitarist Bill Harrell formed Reno & Harrell. Red Smiley joined Reno and Harrell in 1969, remaining with them until his death in 1972. From 1964 until 1971 Reno also performed with Benny Martin. In the 1970s he played with The Good Ol' Boys, composed of Frank Wakefield on mandolin, David Nelson on guitar, Chubby Wise on fiddle, and Pat Campbell on bass. Reno began performing with his sons Don Wayne and Dale in later years.

Don Reno died in 1984 at the age of 57. He is buried in Spring Hill Cemetery, Lynchburg, Virginia. In 1992 he was posthumously inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor.


  • Mr. 5-String (1965)
  • A Song for Everyone (1966)
  • Bluegrass Gospel Favorites (1967) — with Benny Martin; reissued on CD as Gospel Songs from Cabin Creek
  • Don Reno & His Tennessee Cut-Ups (1966)
  • Rural Rhythm Presents Don Reno & Bill Harrell with the Tennessee Cut-Ups (1967)
  • A Variety of New Sacred Gospel Songs (1968)
  • The Sensational Twin Banjos of Eddie Adcock and Don Reno (1968)
  • All the Way to Reno (1969) — with Bill Harrell
  • Fastest Five Strings Alive (1969)
  • I'm Using My Bible Like a Roadmap (1969) — with Bill Harrell
  • Bluegrass Favorites (1969) — with Bill Harrell
  • The Most Requested Songs of Don Reno, Bill Harrell and the Tennessee Cut-Ups (1970)
  • Letter Edged in Black (1971) — with Red Smiley and Bill Harrell
  • Bluegrass Legends "Together" (1972) — with Charlie Moore
  • Profile (1972) — with Red Smiley, Bill Harrell, Ronnie Reno and Charlie Moore
  • Bluegrass on my Mind (1972) — with Bill Harrell
  • Tally-Ho (1973) — with Bill Harrell
  • Don Reno on Stage (1974)
  • Rivers and Roads (1974) — with Bill Harrell
  • Bi-Centennial Bluegrass (1975) — with Bill Harrell
  • Spice of Life (1975) — with Bill Harrell
  • Dear Old Dixie (1976) — with Bill Harrell
  • Home in the Mountains (1977) — with Bill Harrell
  • The Don Reno Story (1977) — with Bill Harrell
  • Magnificent Bluegrass Band (1978)
  • Feudin' Again (1979) — with Arthur "Guitar Boogie" Smith
  • The Bluegrass Cardinals Live & On Stage (1980) — with 7 tracks by guests Don Reno & the Tennessee Cut-Ups
  • 30th Anniversary Album (1980)
  • The Original Dueling Banjos (1983) — with Arthur "Guitar Boogie" Smith
  • Still Cutting Up (1983)
  • Banjo Bonanza (1983) — with Bobby Thompson & The Cripple Creek Quartet
  • Final Chapter (1986)
  • Family and Friends (1989)
  • The Golden Guitar of Don Reno (2000) — previously unreleased recordings made in November 1972 with Bill Harrell and Buck Ryan

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c Trischka, Tony, "Don Reno", Banjo Song Book, Oak Publications, 1977
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^

Further reading

  • Tony Trischka, Pete Wernick. Masters of the 5-String Banjo, Oak Publications, 1988.

External links

  • Don Reno website at the Wayback Machine (archived August 22, 2008)
  • Don Reno entry at
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Hawaii eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.