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Man Dies After Winning Banjo Title

November 12, 1997

BURLINGTON, W.Va. (AP) _ A 21-year-old banjo player collapsed and died after winning a music competition.

Cory Staggs, who had a heart condition, was backstage when he was named winner of the Mid-Atlantic Fiddle and Banjo Championships in Cumberland.

Winded from his ``Dueling Banjos″ performance, he was unable to go on-stage to accept the trophy. He collapsed, then died on his way to a hospital.

``He never played better,″ said his mother, Sharon Staggs.

Mrs. Staggs often played with her son and was on stage with him during Saturday’s competition.

``I backed him up sometimes, but he was too good for me,″ she said. ``He played so fast I couldn’t keep up.″

Staggs was born with a heart condition that caused shortness of breath and blood clotting. But he never let it get in the way of his music, performing from the age of 13 across West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Maryland.

Staggs was to be buried Wednesday in his black jeans, black vest and bolo tie that he always wore while performing.

``He lived a full life,″ his father said. ``He did in 21 years what most people would do in 80.″

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