Bill Grant passes

Bill Grant passed away on Tuesday, July 09, 2019, after a brief confinement to hospital following a fall on May 18 that resulted in a fractured leg. 

Billy Joe Grant was born in Hugo, Oklahoma on May 9, 1929; a Choctaw tribal member, he grew up on the family ranch near Hugo, and worked in the Fort Worth stockyards for a while. 

Surprisingly, he didn’t have a musical instrument until when in high school, was inspired by Bill Monroe, and took up the mandolin.  

Grant is best known for the 40-year musical partnership with Delia Bell during which time they recorded 32 albums. A dozen were released on their own label Kiamichi Records, while others can be found on the County, Rebel, and Rounder labels. 

For a little over a decade – beginning in the late 1960s, the duo was backed by the Kiamichi Mountain Boys (also known as the Bonham Brothers), a group named after the Kiamichi Mountains near their home. 

When the Kiamichi Mountain Boys were disbanded in 1980, they worked either with the Johnson Mountain Boys or as a mandolin/guitar duo. 

Bill Grant and Delia Bell performed in 34 states and seven countries, among those being England and Ireland, wherein they toured 11 times during the 1970s.

They continued to perform as a duo until 2006 when their partnership ended. In the following year Grant began singing on a limited basis with his stepdaughter, Amy Patrick.

Grant is credited with promoting the first bluegrass festival west of the Mississippi. His multi-day festival at Hugo, Oklahoma, in 1969, had its roots in a gathering two years earlier.

His honors include the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Distinguished Achievement award (in 2006); recognition – with Bell – as a Pioneer of Bluegrass Music (by the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Owensboro, Kentucky); and induction into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame (2017). 

His passing was just over a year after Delia Bell passed away. 

Also, we aim to bring a remembrance and career overview in due course. 

R.I.P., Bill Grant

Update 7/16:

There will be an open celebration of Bill Grant’s life on Saturday, August 10, 2019, at 2:00 p.m. at the Bill Grant Civic Center in Hugo, Oklahoma.  

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.