Shoji Tabuchi, an internationally acclaimed fiddler and a beloved fixture in Branson, Missouri, passed away on Friday (11 August) at the age of 79.
Known as the “King of Branson,” Tabuchi had been captivating audiences in this hub of live music and family getaways for over three decades.
His initial appearance in Branson dates back to the early 1980s, but as the decade came to a close, he unveiled The Shoji Tabuchi Theatre. As his popularity soared, the theater’s dimensions expanded and it eventually relocated.
Taking the stage at his eponymous theater, which unfortunately suffered fire damage later on, he often shared the limelight with his wife Dorothy and daughter Christina.
Christina Lingo-Tabuchi shared a heartfelt message on his Facebook page, stating, “We are devastated and heartbroken. Not only will he be terribly missed by his family and friends, he will also be missed by his countless fans throughout the world.”
Branson’s city officials issued an official statement on Saturday, extending condolences and lauding Tabuchi as “one of Branson’s all-time, greatest gems. A trailblazer. A good man. A world-class performer. The much-loved Shoji Tabuchi. Thank you Tabuchi Family for your decades with us.”
The city also revisited a mayoral proclamation from August 31, 2021, which declared it as “Shoji, Dorothy and Christina Tabuchi Day” in recognition of their substantial contributions to the Branson community, particularly their support for music education in local schools.
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Inducted into the National Fiddler Hall of Fame in 2020, Tabuchi was born in Japan. His early passion for the fiddle was ignited by the music of American singer Roy Acuff.
His initial challenge was convincing club owners that he truly embodied a country fiddler, as outlined on the Shoji Tabuchi Show website. His talent led to frequent invitations to perform on the Grand Ole Opry stage.
Tabuchi’s artistry transcended genres, his performances spanned country, pop, rock, polka, rap, gospel, and patriotic American tunes, honoring his adopted homeland. After residing in Kansas City for several years, Tabuchi settled in Branson.
In early 2022, following a hiatus of nearly three years, Tabuchi unveiled plans for a year-long live show celebrating his life and his most cherished songs.
Titled “An Evening with Shoji,” the show took place at the Little Opry Theatre within Branson’s IMAX Entertainment Complex.
The news of his passing prompted an outpouring of tributes on social media, with fellow musicians, performers from his shows, long-standing fans, and a multitude of Branson artists expressing their sorrow.
Rhonda Vincent, a Grammy-winning bluegrass artist and Missouri native shared a photo alongside Tabuchi and conveyed her sadness on X (formerly Twitter), recounting her first meeting with him in 1969 when she was 7 years old.
Terry Wayne Sanders, a comedian and actor associated with Branson, expressed condolences for Tabuchi’s family, friends, and admirers, acknowledging him as a true embodiment of the American dream, a source of immense joy, and a positive influence worldwide.