Bluegrass legend Ray Goins dies at 71

Bluegrass legend Ray Goins dies at 71


A Pike County man who played bluegrass music alongside some of the industry’s greatest musicians died in Pikeville this week.

Ray Goins, former Goins Brothers band member and bluegrass legend, died after an extended illness Monday.

He played alongside his brother, Melvin Goins, in the Goins Brothers band for a quarter of a century before health problems prevented him from traveling to shows. He had a heart attack in 1994 and retired in 1997, but he appeared with the group for occasional performances after he stopped traveling.

The brothers, who gained numerous awards during musical careers that spanned more than 50 years, had two stints with the famed Lonesome Pine Fiddlers.

After Ray Goins retired, his brother formed the Melvin Goins & Windy Mountain band in 1999. The song, “Windy Mountain” was a signature song of the Lonesome Pine Fiddlers.

“Bluegrass music has lost a true friend and one of the pioneers of bluegrass music. Ray and Melvin gave their lives to this style of music. He will be missed by all his peers as a musician, but more importantly, as a good friend,” said Grasstowne band member Steve Gulley. Gulley and other members of the group Mountain Heart bought their first bus from the Goins Brothers.

In Pike County, the bluegrass pioneer was also known as a good neighbor and friend.

“Bluegrass music has lost somebody very significant, but our community did as well,” said Rick Bentley, Pikeville College’s sports information director, who has known Goins for decades. “Ray was everything you want in a neighbor and he was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. We’re going to miss him.”

Goins, 71, played with his brother last summer and he regularly performed as a member of the Unity Freewill Baptist Church in Rockhouse.

“Nobody could sing, ‘I Saw the Light’ like him,” Bentley said. “He played with anybody who was anybody in bluegrass, with the exception of Ralph Stanley. They both played the banjo.”

Lucas and Son Funeral Home scheduled his funeral for 1 p.m. Friday at the Unity Freewill Baptist Church in Rockhouse.

5 Responses to “Bluegrass legend Ray Goins dies at 71”

  1. Ray Goins was my Uncle. I will miss him very much. He was a wonderful man . He was always kind and considerate to everyone, and I feel “Blessed” that he was part of the family. I always bragged about him and his music. He was the “STAR” in our family and he will continue to Shine Bright in our lives. Rest in Peace Uncle Ray

    Love the Jenkins Family

  2. My condolances to your family Rita. And thank you for sharing your uncle with us all these years.

  3. missy heard Says:

    Ray Goins was my uncle. Eventhough, he was married to my dads sister, I never thought of him as my uncle by marriage. He had been in my family since before I was born. I knew that Ray was well loved and well known, but it wasn’t until he died that I realized that he was such a great man and he touched so many peoples in so many different ways.

    The Heard Family

  4. Ray Goins will be in my next bluegrass book soon to publish by Rhyne Publishing. A great man and icon to bluegrass old-time tradition.

    Christopher Lee Rhyne

  5. Bluegrass Detour is now published Feb 3rd is first printing. Anyone who wishes to purchase my new book on Bluegrass music, history, band members, over 2,500 songs inside book, 78’s, 45’s and a great read should go to and order my 150 pg book only $8.99 (book has $12.99 retail price). You save $4 plus I only Charge less than $3 for shipping. Christopher Lee Rhyne

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