Rickie Lee Skaggs (born July 18, 1954), known professionally as Ricky Skaggs, is an American country and bluegrass singer, musician, producer, and composer. He primarily plays mandolin; however, he also plays fiddle, guitar, mandocaster and banjo.
Skaggs was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2018.
Skaggs was born in Cordell, Kentucky. He started playing music at age 5 after he was given a mandolin by his father, Hobert. At age 6, he played mandolin and sang on stage with Bill Monroe. At age 7, he appeared on television's Martha White country music variety show, playing with Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs. He also wanted to audition for the Grand Ole Opry at that time, but was told he was too young.
In his mid-teens, Skaggs met a fellow teen guitarist, Keith Whitley, and the two started playing together with Whitley's banjoist brother Dwight on radio shows. By 1970, they had earned a spot opening for Ralph Stanley and Skaggs and Keith Whitley were thereafter invited to join Stanley's band, the Clinch Mountain Boys.
Skaggs later joined The Country Gentlemen in Washington, DC, J. D. Crowe's New South. In 1976, Skaggs formed progressive bluegrass band Boone Creek, including members Vince Gill and Jerry Douglas. For a few years, Skaggs was a member of Emmylou Harris's Hot Band. He wrote the arrangements for Harris's 1980 bluegrass-roots album, Roses in the Snow. In addition to arranging for Harris, Skaggs sang harmony and played mandolin and fiddle in the Hot Band.
Skaggs launched his own country career in 1980, achieving 12 #1 hits, 8 CMA awards, and 8 ACM awards. In 1982, he became a member of the Grand Ole Opry, the youngest to ever be inducted at that time. Guitarist and producer Chet Atkins credited Skaggs with "single-handedly" saving country music. Skaggs is considered one of the pioneers of the Neotraditional country sub-genre.
In 1981, he debuted on Epic Records, Waitin for the Sun to Shine, which brought him to both the country and pop charts and produced two #1 hits.
In 1982, he released Highways & Heartaches, his only platinum album, featuring the instrumental heavy Highway 40 Blues.
Keeping with his instrumental heavy themes, he released "Country Boy" on the album of the same name. He also had Bill Monroe as a guest on this album.
Exploring a role as producer, Skaggs produced Dolly Parton's album White Limozeen, which started her comeback in country music.
Skaggs also guested on other albums. In 1995, he sang with Vince Gill on '"Go Rest High on That Mountain", which later won CMA's Song of the Year and was determined by BMI to be the Most-Performed Song in 1997.
In 1996, Skaggs went back to his bluegrass roots, and also experimented with new sounds. With his band, Kentucky Thunder, he is a perennial winner of Grammy Awards and International Bluegrass Music Association for best bluegrass album.
In 2000, he shared the stage with Vermont-based jam band, Phish. On March 20, 2007, Skaggs released an album with rock musician Bruce Hornsby.
In 2004, Skaggs was elected to the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame.
In 2008, Skaggs released an album he recorded with The Whites on his Skaggs Family Records label.
In 2008, Skaggs recorded a bluegrass version of "Old Enough" by the Raconteurs with Ashley Monroe and the Raconteurs. He played the mandolin on the track as well as sharing vocals with Jack White, Brendan Benson, and Ashley Monroe.
In 2011, Skaggs with other Bluegrass musicians featured with Irish band, The Brock McGuire Band on their album 'Green Grass Blue Grass'. An exploration of the connection between Irish Traditional Music and American Bluegrass and Appalachian music.
Also in 2011, Skaggs contributed to Moody Bluegrass TWO...Much Love, a bluegrass tribute album to the British Progressive Rock band the Moody Blues. Skaggs sang lead vocal on the song "You And Me".
In 2012, Skaggs collaborated with Barry Gibb on the song, "Soldier's Son" which was released on Music to My Ears.
In 2015, Skaggs toured with Ry Cooder, Sharon White and other members of The Whites.
In 2016, he produced the Grammy-winning album Love Remains for Lady Antebellum member Hillary Scott.
In 2019, he collaborated with Steven Curtis Chapman for Chapman's album Deeper Roots: Where the Bluegrass Grows.
Skaggs has been married to Sharon White of The Whites since August 1981. They have 2 children; a daughter, Molly, and a son, Lucas. Skaggs was previously married to Brenda Stanley and has two children, Andrew and Mandy, from that relationship.