Clarence Greene was a multi-instrumentalist and recording artist in the 1920s and early ’30s, and a performing musician until his death in 1961. A versatile musician, Greene made recordings solo and with a variety of groups, including the Blue Ridge Singers, the Wise Brothers, Byrd Moore and his Hot Shots, and the Blue Ridge Mountain Entertainers, and in duets and trios with Clarence “Tom” Ashley and Gwen Foster.
Clarence Greene grew up in the Cranberry Gap area of Mitchell County (now Avery County), and he learned to play guitar and banjo at a young age. He took up the fiddle in the early 1920s, and quickly progressed, winning prizes at area fiddlers’ conventions. He made his first recordings for Columbia in 1927, playing guitar and singing. Next, he recorded with the Wise Brothers from Avery County, before teaming up with Byrd Moore and Clarence Ashley. He continued to record with various musical configurations through 1931.
Clarence Greene formed the Toe River Valley Boys in the late 1930s, a group that remained active in the area into the 1990s with fiddler Red Wilson. He later formed the Mount Mitchell Ramblers in the 1940s, a group that played on WBRM radio out of Marion.
Son Clarence Howard Greene started performing with his father in 1961, when he was a young teen, and they played for the Horn in the West outdoor drama in Boone that summer. Clarence, Sr., died that fall, and Clarence, Jr., continued playing with the Toe River Valley Boys and other groups until his death in 2009.