Bruce Moody grew up in a very musical family and environment in McDowell County. His father played banjo in a two-finger up-picking style that was more common to his generation, picking tunes such as “Walkin’ In The Parlor,” “Shout Lu,” “John Hardy,” and “Cumberland Gap” in a special D tuning. Bruce’s uncle, Clyde Moody, played with Bill Monroe from 1940-45, and he helped develop the bluegrass fiddling style as well as write a number of popular bluegrass tunes such as “Kentucky Waltz,” and “Shenandoah Waltz.”
Every weekend, his family and friends would get together to play. Bruce decided to start playing guitar when he was about fourteen years old. In 1957, his father bought him a Martin D-18 guitar, an instrument he continued to play in his later years. Bruce played with his uncle Clyde’s band from 1962 until 1989, when Clyde passed away. “It’s hard to get anybody who can play the way he played,” Bruce said. For about seven years, Bruce played a lot of square dances with North Carolina Folk Heritage Award recipient, Red Wilson and the Toe River Valley Boys. They played at Penland School every other Friday, and at the famous Geneva Hall in Little Switzerland, where dances were held for many years.
Bruce played with Don Reno in the early 1970s, but when he had to choose between playing with Reno or staying in McDowell County, he stayed home. Bruce also played with E.C. Miller from 1993 to 2000 as Moody and Miller and the Elk River Band. The group played festivals all over East Tennessee and western North Carolina. In his later years, Bruce played guitar and sang with Raymond Fairchild during the summer. He also performed with the Jones Brothers and the Log Cabin Boys. He played on a number of radio stations, including those in Spartanburg, Knoxville, Spruce Pine, Asheville, and Bristol and made about a dozen recordings. He had his own bluegrass band with Richard Hollis, George Buckner, and Gerald Lavender.
Bruce Moody passed away on February 21, 2009 at the age of 68.