Renowned Oklahoma fiddler Byron Berline dies at 77

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FILE- In a Feb. 25, 2019 file, Byron Berline kisses his prized 1923 Lloyd Loar Gibson mandolin after his store was destroyed by a fire in Guthrie, Okla. Berline, a renowned fiddler and owner of a popular Oklahoma instrument shop, has died. Berline was 77. Bette Berline, Byron’s wife, confirmed his death to The Associated Press on Monday, July 1, 2021. She says he was hospitalized after suffering a stroke and that over the weekend his “lungs gave up and so did his heart.” He died on Saturday. (Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman via AP)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Byron Berline, a renowned fiddler who played with superstars like Elton John, the Rolling Stones and owned a popular Oklahoma instrument shop, has died. He was 77.

Bette Berline, Byron’s wife, confirmed his death to The Associated Press. She said he was hospitalized after suffering a stroke and that on Saturday his “lungs gave up and so did his heart.”

Bette recalled her husband as a fun and loving father and husband, who until soon before his death looked and acted like a man 20 years younger.

“He was more than a musician, an incredibly gifted musician,” she said. “He was a good, good man.”

A three-time National Fiddle Champion, Berline grew up in Grant County along the Oklahoma-Kansas state line and worked with music greats like John, Vince Gill and Bob Dylan. The Stones recruited Berline for “Country Honk,” a country version of “Honky Tonk Women,” based on Gram Parsons’ recommendation.

Berline moved to Guthrie in 1995 and opened the Double Stop Fiddle Shop & Music Hall, which was destroyed by a fire in 2019. He later opened a new shop across the street.

Berline was also survived by his daughter and four grandchildren, Bette Berline said.

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