John “Buddy” Crocker (1932-2016)

Old-Time Fiddler, Leakesville

Fiddler John “Buddy” Crocker was born and raised in rural Greene County. He first got interested in the instrument as a teenager. Crocker went to the same church as the local fiddle legend Jode Denmark and was able to convince the older musician to sell him a fiddle. He learned some tunes from Denmark and also took lessons with a local teacher, but he gained much experience from playing music with his brothers and sisters.

Crocker served in the U.S. Army in the early 1950s and his in the services took him all the way to Alaska. While stationed up north, he started a country band with fellow soldiers. They stayed busy playing clubs on different military bases. Crocker also got a chance to play with Gordon Terry, a fiddler from Nashville who played with country singer Faron Young.

When he returned to Mississippi after the service, Crocker was inactive as a musician for several years due to working the night shift at a mill in Mobile, Alabama. When he later got on days at a shipyard on the coast, bandleaders started calling him. During this time, he played with a group that had a daily show on a radio station in Lucedale.

Crocker remained busy as a part-time musician. He performed at local nursing homes and at community “pickings” with his group, The Rocky Creek Country Boys. Crocker also played music with his siblings.

Crocker also developed into a busy music teacher. He received a Folk Art Apprenticeship grant from the Mississippi Arts Commission in 2001. When news of the grant was noted in the local newspaper, Crocker got a steady stream of calls from people in the community who were interested in taking lessons from him. He taught fiddling to several young people in the area.

As a recognition for his strong musical skills and commitment to his artform, Crocker received a Folk Art Fellowship award from the Arts Commission in 2004.

Crocker died on February 2, 2016, in Mobile, Alabama.

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