- Richard Carlin
Cockerham, Fred (03 November 1905–08 July 1980), banjo player, fiddler, and singer, was born in Round Peak, North Carolina, near the Virginia border, the son of Elias Cockerham and Betty Jane (maiden name unknown), subsistence farmers. One of seven children, Fred grew up among a musical family; many of his brothers played music, and his father played harmonica and buckdanced. His uncle Troy was a fiddler, as was his older brother Pate. Given such a musical background, Fred began playing music when he was about eight years old. On the banjo he was influenced by local players Mal Smith and Charlie Lowe, who both played in the traditional frailing style, although Lowe “dropped his thumb” from the fifth (drone) string to play melody notes, a method that also influenced Cockerham’s melodic playing. Cockerham’s interest in the fiddle was spurred by hearing ...