Here are Molly Tuttle’s favorite Tony Rice albums, part of her larger feature on the legendary guitarist’s work and legacy.
J. D. Crowe & the New South – Self-titled (1975)
On these early recordings, Rice established himself as one of the most influential bluegrass singers and guitar players.
The David Grisman Quintet – Self-titled (1977)
Rice was an integral part of the groundbreaking David Grisman Quintet that created a new style of acoustic music, taking influences from bluegrass, jazz, and folk.
The Tony Rice Unit – Manzanita (1978)
This album features Rice’s signature instrumental “Manzanita” and some of his most beloved vocal pieces, like “Old Train,” “Ginseng Sullivan,” and “Blue Railroad Train.”
Ricky Skaggs/Tony Rice – Skaggs & Rice (1980)
When I hear Rice and Skaggs singing together it give me chills! I love the way their voices blend on bluegrass classics like “There’s More Pretty Girls Than One” and “Bury Me Beneath the Weeping Willow.”
The Bluegrass Album Band – The Bluegrass Album (1981)
This album is a must hear for anyone who loves bluegrass. It features an all-star band with Rice’s mind-blowing guitar playing and vocals.
Tony Rice – Church Street Blues (1983)
This may be my favorite Rice album! It’s just him and a guitar with no backing band and you can hear all the subtleties in his voice and guitar.
Béla Fleck – Drive (1988)
This iconic instrumental album features Fleck’s masterful compositions and stunning guitar work by Rice.
This article originally appeared in the May/June 2021 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.