Bluegrass and early country music fans have taken great pride in the Bill Monroe statue displayed outside The Ryman Auditorium since its installation in June of 2017. Countless fans have had their picture taken with the bronze sculpture on visits to Nashville, and social media is awash with examples.
The statue was created on commission by sculptor Ben Watts, who also made the nearby likeness of Little Jimmy Dickens.
But the statue was damaged on June 1 when a protest in downtown Nashville gave way to a riot, and one of the windows behind Bill’s head on the Ryman building was smashed. That same evening the historic Nashville courthouse was set ablaze, leading to the arrest of one man on federal charges.
The Ryman staff have temporarily removed the Monroe statue, and returned it to the artist for restoration and repair. They can’t be certain that the damage, which they describe as minor, occurred at the same time that the window was smashed, but say that we can expect to see Bill back on his perch by fall.
It has also been intimated that he will be joined shortly by some “friends,” so that will be exciting to see.
Our friend and correspondent Chris Smith, guitarist with Ohio grassers Caney Creek, snapped these photos of the missing statue while visiting in Nashville this week.
So don’t worry, Bill Monroe fans. He’ll be back outside The Ryman soon!