Stringbean: Age 58 | Cause Of Death: GUNSHOT

(b.  17 June 1915, d.10 November 1973)

Country artist and Hee Haw regular. Murdered (shot?) along with wife by burglar. 

Bluegrass festival, statue to honor Stringbean

By Kimberly N. Martin  Central Kentucky Bureau  

GRAY HAWK — Music lovers knew him as Stringbean, but to his family David Akeman was just String.

More than 22 years after the bluegrass banjoist and comedian was murdered, his family and friends say it’s time to remember and pay tribute to Stringbean.

A festival in Stringbean’s home Jackson County, featuring the music that made him famous seemed like the way to do it, said his nephew, Phillip Akeman, who coordinated the festival, which starts today.

“It don’t seem like it could be that long” since String died, Phillip Akeman said. “I guess it’s time — time that something like this was done.”

Akeman said he was initially hesitant to start a festival because of the violent way his uncle’s life ended.

Stringbean and his wife, Estelle, were murdered in their home by burglars Nov. 11, 1973. He was 58. 

But Akeman said he eventually realized it couldn’t do any harm. In fact, he said it might help people to remember the man who was known for wearing his shirts long and his pants short.

David Akeman picked up the name Stringbean during a 1930s appearance on Lexington’s WLAP radio show, his nephew said. Asa Martin had the job of introducing David Akeman, but he couldn’t remember his name.

Family lore has it that Martin said “‘he’s a big ole’ stringbean fellow,'” Akeman said. And the name stuck.

Finding performers was the easiest part of putting together the show, he said. Household names among bluegrass lovers like Grandpa and Ramona Jones and Porter Wagoner were lifelong friends of Stringbean.

They performed together at the Grand Ole Opry, Akeman said. Grandpa Jones and Springbean used to return to Stringbean’s home town of Annville in Jackson County to hunt and fish.

It’s Wagoner’s job Saturday to unveil a larger than life-size statue of his old friend. The statue will remain on the festival grounds throughout the year.

Proceeds from the three-day festival will go toward maintaining the statue, and a few long-term and loftier goals such as creating a museum in Stringbean’s honor and a scholarship for students who want to continue the bluegrass tradition.

“A lot of these entertainers were his buddies, so it means a lot to me for them to be here,” Akeman said.

It also means a lot to local bluegrass music fans…  ~ All Contents © Copyright 1996 Lexington Herald-Leader. All Rights Reserved 

Subject of  book,  

The Stringbean Murders.  
by Causey, Warren B.