Our State Magazine has a great feature this month on Russell Palmer, the man who taught the South’s most famous fiddler how to play a guitar. Palmer is from nearby Gulf, where he met the great Charlie Daniels …
Russell Palmer opens the case. “There it is,” he says, holding up the fiddle inside. It’s old, he says. You can tell by the velvet-lined wooden case. The neck is worn. Other than that, it looks good for its age. Too good, he says.
Russell tends to wear the same expression no matter what mood he’s in. He wears a navy blue Members Only jacket over his blue shirt. He looks like a funeral director because he is one.
A couple of things about this fiddle, Russell says. It belongs to a cousin in Roxboro. It was refinished a couple of years ago. And it just happens to be the first fiddle Charlie Daniels ever played.
Russell plucks the strings idly, then shuts the case. I just want to make clear, he says, addressing the rumor that’s long circulated around his hometown, Gulf, that I never taught Charlie how to play the fiddle. I don’t even like the fiddle, he says in a gravelly voice. But he did do something else — something Charlie’s never forgotten.
FULL STORY HERE (features a photo of an old Sanford Herald story on Palmer, too)