I’m Going Back to Old Kentucky #10

From October 1, 2010 through to the end of September 2011, we will, each day, celebrate the life of Bill Monroe by sharing information about him and those people who are associated with his life and music career. This information will include births and deaths; recording sessions; single, LP and CD release dates; and other interesting tidbits. Richard F. Thompson is responsible for the research and compilation of this information. We invite readers to share any tidbits, photos or memories you would like us to include.

October 10 – There are about 20 dates for which I do not have any information at this time. So, for such occasions, I’ll take the opportunity to share with you some of the comments about Bill Monroe that I have collected through the years. In this instance, former Blue Grass Boy Doug Hutchens describes the Bill Monroe that he knew.

As well as playing bass and banjo for Monroe during the summer of 1971, Hutchens was responsible for organizing the many birthday celebrations that started in 1982 and the reunions of the Blue Grass Boys beginning in 1998. Doug Hutchens has been and continues to be an invaluable supporter of this project. Many thanks Doug.

“He could appear ‘abrasive’ when he didn’t understand or was not himself understood. He could be ‘spiritual,’ when he was around nature/animals or with people that he was completely comfortable with. He could be ‘fatherly’ as I was 18 when I worked for him and there was never a time after I left the band that when I would go to a show the first questions were always how were my folks and usually the next question was How was I doing and did I need any money or anything.

He could be ‘stubborn.’ He grew up in a different world that most of us and he did not like ‘Johnny-come-latelys’ trying to impress him or to show off. He was ‘independent;’ over the years he found that the only one he could only rely on was himself. He would never ask any man working for him to do something that he would not himself do.?? He was ‘determined;’ this along with being independent kept him going when time were tough in the mid 50’s. He was ‘appreciative’ but had some problems with putting that into words. I did several birthday projects for him 1982-1990 and he would usually say, ‘Man, you don’t know how much I appreciate this.’ He lived most of his life giving to others and it was difficult to be on the other end of it.

He was ‘genuine,’ what you saw was what you got. He believed in a handshake being as good as a signed document. He was a ‘giving’ person, he always made sure that he introduced all the group each show on the Grand Ole Opry and on any TV shows they appeared on.

He was a ‘concerned’ person, as I mentioned before, he always asked about my folks and if I needed anything, but he encouraged me to go back to school and get my degree saying that ‘if you ever want the job back and I have an opening its yours.’ He said that ‘If I had not made it in music the only thing I could have done was farmed, and your folks want you to finish college.’ “

In the picture of Doug Hutchens you may notice the belt buckle he is wearing. It is a limited edition buckle given to each Blue Grass Boy, of whom there has been about 175.

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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.