Former bass player for Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys, Guy Stevenson passed away on January 4, 2019, while at the Parkland Medical Center, Farmington, Missouri. He was 89 years old and had been in ill health for a while.
Guy Benton Stevenson was born in Vulcan, Missouri, the oldest of twelve children, on December 16, 1929.
In 1966 he began playing as a regular on the newly-opened Current River Opry in the Ozark town of Eminence, Missouri.
Bill Monroe played the Current River Opry from time to time and it was there where Stevenson first caught Monroe’s attention.
Stevenson and Frank Ray, whom he befriended in 1966, then began going to Monroe’s Bean Blossom Festival.
Ray looks back fondly ….
“Guy was one who smiled easily and caused everyone around him to feel like smiling. His personality along with great showmanship and bass playing, made him a favorite. We became instant friends and he would often fill in with our band and played for spans of a few months with our band [(Cedar Hill)] on a couple different occasions between 1971-1974.
One of his great showman stunts was to approach the stage with his bass laying on its side and would step on the tail piece lifting the bass perfectly into his hands and ready to play. Always with a huge smile.
…. [He] made the world a better place.”
Taking leave from his regular job as an auditor with the Missouri State Department of Revenue, Stevenson played bass for Bill Monroe from April 1973 until mid-July 1973.
While he was a Blue Grass Boy, he fulfilled a dream by performing on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry, and also recorded on the famed 1973 Bean Blossom album (MCA Records). He played to national TV audiences on the highly rated Dean Martin Show as well as on many other famous stages.
From two sets during Bill Monroe’s 7th Annual Bluegrass Festival, at Bean Blossom, Indiana, MCA recorded performances of Mule Skinner Blues (Blue Yodel No. 8), You Won’t Be Satisfied That Way, Uncle Pen, Blue Moon of Kentucky, Roll on Buddy, I Wonder Where You Are Tonight, and Orange Blossom Special.
However, Stevenson left Monroe when his period of leave from work ended.
In the mid-1970s and he joined Dub Crouch, Norman Ford and the Bluegrass Rounders, featuring on two LPs, Traditional Bluegrass and Footprints in The Snow, both for King Bluegrass Records.
Later (1977) Dub Crouch, with Stevenson playing bass, released Cuttin’ The Bluegrass for the SPBGMA label.
For three consecutive years – 1975, 1976 and 1977 – Stevenson was named the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America (SPBGMA) Bass Player of the Year.
It was sometime in the late 1970s that he began to play his guitar more frequently, and formed his own bluegrass Gospel band, The Winning Team Band, playing local venues as well as at the Missouri State Governor’s Mansion.
In the 1990s Stevenson was recognized by Kentucky State Governor Patton for his talents and love of bluegrass music, and was named an Honorary Kentucky Colonel.
Ray also remembers ……
“In the early 2000s I had occasion to play with Guy on a number of occasions with a make-up group of friends to play local church events and such. This group was often made up with Guy on the bass, my uncle Richard Orchard on guitar, our friend and Catholic priest, Father Edward Richard on Stanley-style banjo, and myself on mandolin.
I will miss my ol’ friend. RIP.”
In 2002 Stevenson fought off the ravages of cancer, writing a song, The Power of Prayer, that relates his experiences during that year.
“It’s just like you going to a family reunion. I mean, we’re all in the same family,” Stevenson said of Monroe during a September 2010 reunion of 29 former Blue Grass Boys the International Bluegrass Museum’s annual ROMP Festival, on Owensboro, Kentucky. “We was all taught by the same teacher.”
As well as being an accomplished bass player, guitarist and singer, he was songwriter also. With DeWayne Mize, Stevenson wrote the lyrics to Southern Flavor, recorded by Becky Buller and named by the IBMA as Recorded Event of the Year in 2015.
Stevenson and Buller were the composers of the song You Gotta Climb Over the Cross, recorded by Kristin Scott Benson (on her excellent Stringworks CD).
His signature song – his own composition – was Wore Out.
In April 2016 Stevenson started his own day-long annual Jam Session in Vulcan, Missouri.
During the following year Stevenson was recognised by the Missouri Bluegrass Preservation Association as a Pioneer of Missouri bluegrass music.
Stevenson remained active, picking and singing, until ill health curtailed his participation at festivals and in Jam sessions.
R.I.P., Guy Stevenson
Visitation will be at 4:00 p.m., Monday, January 7, 2019, at Vulcan Assembly of God Church, 56010 Highway 49; Vulcan, Missouri 63675.
The funeral service will follow at 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January 8, 2019, also at Vulcan Assembly of God Church. Burial will be at Sutton Cemetery, Vulcan, Missouri.
Online condolences can be made at www.rueggfuneralhomes.com