A lifelong resident of Panola County’s Como, Mississippi, the GRAMMY®-nominated blues singer-songwriter/guitarist R.L. Boyce spent over five decades transforming the fife and drum tradition of his childhood into his very own Hill Country boogie style. Boyce passed away Thursday, November 9, at the age of 68.
Under the tutelage of other hill country blues musicians such as R.L. Burnside and Mississippi Fred McDowell, Boyce shared stages with the likes of John Lee Hooker and Howlin’ Wolf. “With heavy heart we share with all of you R.L. Boyce passed away peacefully at home early this morning,” a statement read from RL Boyce Big Blues Mane Picnic, his own annual three-day music event. “We love you.”
Earlier this year, Billboard 2022 Blues Label of the Year Easy Eye Sound shared an R.L. Boyce song from their anthology of 21st century juke joint music, Tell Everybody. Compiled and produced by Dan Auerbach — label founder and 2023 GRAMMY® Nominee for Producer Of The Year — the collection upholds the label’s core mission to uplift and preserve unsung voices across the blues genre.
Easy Eye Sound took to social media to honor their friend and remarkable legend, noting that “his Hill Country boogie style blues was truly one of a kind and his contribution to the fife and drum scene there was immense.
“No one could play or sing quite like him, a true master at effortless and hypnotic improvisation. We’re grateful to have known him and honored to have worked with him on his version of ‘Coal Black Mattie’ included on this year’s blues compilation… Rest easy friend.”