I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky #105

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.

  • January 13, 1930 Rual Holt Yarbrough was born in Lawrence County, Tennessee.  *
  • January 13, 1971 Recording Session – During an evening session at Bradley’s Barn Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys recorded Summertime is Past and Gone, Rocky Road Blues, Mule Skinner Blues and the instrumental Katy Hill. The Blue Grass Boys were James Monroe [guitar], Earl Snead [banjo], Joe Stuart [bass] and Kenny Baker [fiddle]. The producer was Walter Haynes and Bill Monroe was listed as “leader” of the session. **
  • January 13, 1988 Recording Session – During a session at the Sound Stage studio Bill Monroe recorded two songs intended for the Southern Flavor LP: Life’s Highway and Take Courage Un’ Tomorrow. Assisting were Tom Ewing [guitar], Blake Williams [banjo], and three fiddlers; Mike Feagan, Bobby Hicks and Buddy Spicher. Tater Tate played bass on Life’s Highway and producer, Emory Gordy Jr, played bass on Take Courage Un’ Tomorrow. ***

* Rual Yarbrough played banjo with the Blue Grass Boys for about a couple of years from March 1969 to December 1970, having done some fill-in dates in the early 1960s. He replaced Vic Jordan and was, in turn, replaced by Bobby Thompson.

Yarbrough was involved in seven recording sessions, helping with cuts of The Dead March, The Methodist Preacher, Candy Gal, Going up Caney, The Lee Weddin Tune and Texas Gallop for the Uncle Pen album (Decca DL7-5348). He can be heard on the recordings of two Damon Black songs I Haven’t Seen Mary in Years and Sweet Mary and The Miles in Between; Walk Softly on my Heart (better known as Walk Softly on this Heart of Mine), and four Gospel quartet numbers for the Road of Life LP (MCA 426); Road of Life, It’s Me Again Lord, Beyond The Gate and I will Sing for the Glory of God, on each of which Yarbrough sings the baritone part.

As well as being on those Decca/MCA recordings, Yarbrough was recorded in ‘live’ and concert settings for Smithsonian Folkways, a Shanachie video and a NET broadcast.

** Summertime is Past and Gone, Rocky Road Blues and Mule Skinner Blues were included on Bill Monroe’s Country Music Hall of Fame LP (Decca DL 7-5281), which was released on April 26, 1971.

*** Take Courage Un’ Tomorrow was unissued in favour of the version recorded on January 14, 1988.

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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.

  • StewartE

    Richard, I’ve been enjoying your series. One minor correction: I don’t believe Bobby Thompson was a Blue Grass Boy other than in the recording studio. Yarbrough’s replacement was Earl Snead on a temporary basis, followed by RC Harris.