Steve Cooley

Oral History Information

Interview Date
Job Title
Instrument Repair Technician, Musician

Steve Cooley was just a kid when he heard Earl Scrugg playing banjo on the TV show “The Beverly Hillbillies.” The performance lit a spark in Steve who began playing guitar and banjo with older string players around Louisville, Kentucky. He learned all he could from them and went on to play in bars and nightclubs while still in high school. On one such gig he was paid $35.00 plus pizza for a performance, which he later jokes was the moment he knew he wanted to be a professional musician! Steve toured with The Dillards for over 24 years and occasionally performed with Bill Monroe when members of his band were sick or otherwise unavailable. Throughout his playing career, Steve developed his skills as a string instrument repair technician, which along with providing music lessons at Banjo and Bluegrass Camps are among the most rewarding elements of his life in music.