Lester Armistead

Born on October 25, 1942

Departed on May 2, 2014 and resided in Goodlettsville, TN

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Nashville, TN --- "Lonesome" Lester Armistead, 71, founding member of The Tennessee Mafia Jug Band, has died after a battle with cancer.

With the jug band, Armistead propelled both the comedy and the old-time music with his percussive jug blowing. His powerful tenor singing recalled the late great Bashful Brother Oswald, (comedian and Roy Acuff's longtime dobro player), from whom Lester learned to sing. Lester proudly played an antique jug owned by his mentor, and Lester himself an accomplished musician. The band has performed worldwide including performances on the Grand Ole Opry and as regular guests on the Marty Stuart Show on RFD-TV.

Armistead and his late brother, Jack, performed extensively as a country duet many years ago. The boys grew up around Roy Acuff's Smoky Mountain Boys, as their dad co-owned a bait store with Howdy Forrester, who played fiddle with Acuff.

A Tennessee native and retired printer, Lester lived on a farm in the Luton Community near Goodlettsville. On the property stands an old country store which has been the site of many musical gatherings; a place where some of the biggest names would gather for a comfortable, low-key jam, good food and conversation.

The singer's son, Mike Armistead, also a member of the Tennessee Mafia Jug Band, released the following statement:

"There will never be another man who'll measure up to my dad. He was an honest, hard-working farmer and humanitarian who loved to dance and play music. Most of all, he loved his friends and family and especially enjoyed being a grandfather. He was overall just the nicest person you'd ever meet and now, his journey is over. Our family and the extended jug band family is grateful for the prayers and support of so many."

28 Comments to Lester Armistead

  1. Tony Schmittou
    November 30, -0001 12:00 am

    Lester will be sorely missed. God welcomed a great man with open arms into Heaven. God bless you and your family.

  2. athena anderson
    November 30, -0001 12:00 am

    i am so sorry to hear about Lester his
    family will be in my prayers

  3. Thomas Cooke
    November 30, -0001 12:00 am

    So sad to hear of Brother Lesters passing.
    But so happy to know he has crossed the river and now rests under the shade of the trees. Till we all meet again in Christ Jesus’ Glory. Thanks Lester. You’ll never be lonely now.

  4. Ernie Clark
    November 30, -0001 12:00 am

    Shocked and saddened to hear of “Lonesome” Lester’s passing. Prayers to the family. God bless.

    November 30, -0001 12:00 am


  6. Gordon and Eilene Norman
    November 30, -0001 12:00 am

    God bless you Lester, we enjoyed your music. May you rest in peace with the Lord.

  7. Francis Hilyard
    December 14, 2005 12:00 am

    I thourly enjoyed watching Lester and the Mafia Jug Band on Marty Sturats show. It is one of my favorite shows on TV.RFD channel is the only reason I stay on Direct TV.

  8. Bob & Kathy Allison
    November 14, 2005 12:00 am

    We just learned of Lester’s passing after watching the May 10th Marty Stuart Show.

    Our prayers go out to the family and friends.

    He’s in the Lord’s loving hands now.

  9. Peter & Rachelle Talbot
    November 14, 2005 12:00 am

    I’ll never forget meeting Lester at the Station Inn in the early 2000’s. His version of “Wreck On the Highway” gave me chills and will remain as a treasured memory of a huge personality in Country Music. I thank GOD for placing Lester in our lives, and for his impact on so many lives. We pray for your family as you go through this difficult time.

  10. Joe and Becky Longmire
    September 14, 2005 12:00 am

    It’s such a loss to not only the music world but to Mike and his family to lose Lester. We had only known him a little while but followed his music for several years. Last December we went by his house for a short visit. To show the character of this man, he would not let us leave without taking us to his favorite diner in Goodlettsville . Such a genuine country gentleman is rare today. It was evident that he loved his family and friends and will be much missed by all.

  11. Johnny and Mary Sawyer
    August 14, 2005 12:00 am

    We first met Lester when he came to Ireland for “The Banjo Festival” with the jug band.
    They really rocked our world.
    Then we went to Nashville on holiday and decided to look up Lester. We didn’t have an address but we knew about the store, so we arrived in goodletsville and asked around .
    We arrived at Lesters and knocked at his door, out he came and was so delighted to think people from Ireland came looking for him. We just want to say to Mike and family and the boys in the band, We love you guys and are so sorry to hear our friend is gone. We will miss him so much.
    He is causing a ruckus up in heaven no doubt!

  12. Rita Forrester
    July 14, 2005 12:00 am

    What a blessing it was to have known Lester! The Tennessee Mafia Jug Band performed at the Carter Family Fold many times, and it was always our honor and privilege for them to come and play. Fun-loving, honest, God-fearing, and genuine come to mind when you think of Lester – and all the band. We love you all, and we’ll miss Lester so much!

  13. "Rooster" J.L.Simpson
    June 14, 2005 12:00 am

    My Condolences goes out to the Family,& The Tennessee Mafia Jug Band,on your loss. Thanks for the Music & keeping that “Oswald” sound alive,Lester !

  14. Randy Marlin
    May 14, 2005 12:00 am

    What a great kind and talented man enjoyed seeing him and watching him so much. Will be greatly missed

  15. Tom Smith
    May 14, 2005 12:00 am

    I was blessed to be able to speak briefly with Lester at the Little Roy & Lizzy Music Festival, Elijah Clark State Park, Lincolnton Ga. last year. My impression of him as a kind and joyful man has been confirmed and reinforced as I’ve read the comments of others who knew him well. Lester will be sorely missed. Iメd like to add my condolences to Lesterメs family and friends during this time of sorrow.

  16. Sam McPherson
    May 14, 2005 12:00 am

    Lester was a couple of grades behind me at Goodlettsville High School, so I knew him mainly as a rather quiet, unassuming fellow who always seemed to be smiling.

    You can tell a lot about the character of a man by his offspring. I got to know him better as Mike’s father, which showed me what a great parent he was. Loved the Tennessee Mafia Jug Band videos Mike often posted and talking with him about their tours and concerts.

    I know Lester will be missed by those who knew him as a good man and talented musician. My deepest sympathy is with his family and thousands of friends.

    Sam McPherson

  17. Ralph Coggin
    April 14, 2005 12:00 am

    I went to school with Lester and had dinner with him at one of our “mini reunions” with the class of 61 Goodlettsville High School. I enjoyed visiting with Lester and hearing about his musical career. I had no idea Lester was such a good musician. I pray God will be with Mike and Lester’s family at this time and forever. Lester was a quiet and very respectful young man as I recall and a person I can proudly say I knew this man. Thanks bee to God for people like Lester Armistead who brought much joy and happiness to others.RgW8K

  18. Jimmy & Donna Hooper
    April 14, 2005 12:00 am

    Lester was one of a kind. We have so many good memories that we will cherish. He will be missed. Our prayers to Mike and the rest of his family. Rest in peace Lester and give Linda a hug for us! We love you!

  19. Alan O'Bryant
    April 14, 2005 12:00 am

    Lester was a true country Gentleman, a credit to this community, the State and his family name. My heartfelt condolences go to his family and many friends. We will miss him greatly….

    with love
    Alan O’Bryant

  20. Ricky McGuinn
    April 14, 2005 12:00 am

    I only got to see Lester perform once live in Bristol a few years back, but thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s been a pleasure to listen to the music the past few years. I could tell he was one of the good ol’ boys. Thinking of the family during this most difficult time.

  21. Dave Orlomoski
    April 14, 2005 12:00 am

    Sending our deepest sympathies to the family. Lester was a natural entertainer who got into the business for all the right reasons. And he’ll be sorely missed by so many friends and fans. Dave & Robin Orlomoski

  22. Doug and Diane Lanning
    April 14, 2005 12:00 am

    We extend our sincere sympathy to the Armistead family and friends from the passing of Lester. Its sure he will be singing and jugging in heaven. True Country Music has been left with a spot that can not be filled.

  23. Gary and Sheila Dickerson
    April 14, 2005 12:00 am

    There are no words to express what a special person Lester was, he was the sweetest, kindest, friendliest and considerate person we have ever met, not to mention is sense of humor and talent. Always fun to be with and around. We have an abundance of memories and pictures to remember all the good times we shared with him and his family over the years. God Bless Mike and his family.

  24. Randy Escobedo
    April 14, 2005 12:00 am

    My sympathy to the Armistead family. I always enjoyed seeing Lester and the Boys preform. It was great hearing Mike and Lester sing those Acuff songs. He was a great talent and we will miss him. He had many fans here in the midwest. Rest in peace Lester.

  25. Tom Lewis
    April 14, 2005 12:00 am

    I always told Lester that I was his “Missouri Biggest Fan”, not by size, as I am only 140 lbs, but enjoyed his music so much. I never got to see the show in person, but wanted to. Lester told me if I ever got to the show he would set down and talk with me, and I know he would have. He was so kind to me, on their last two CD’s, I kept asking when I could get them, and he told me to send my address and he would mail them to me, and He did. I know He was a strong Christian Gentleman, and I will miss seeing him .

  26. Tom Murphy
    April 14, 2005 12:00 am

    Mike and Lester’s Family:

    I am very sorry for your loss. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

    Tom Murphy

    March 14, 2005 12:00 am


  28. J. Hamilton Forby III
    June 25, 2018 7:45 am

    Mr Armistead’s life & music was a great personal comfort. He portrayed the quintessential idea of what and how a man should be. During a time of intimate tragedy it was his strength, words and actions that firmed my steps and strengthened my soul. I will never forget him. I will not allow his memory to fade, nor will I ever cease to expound his virtue as I go thru this life better for having known him.

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