I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky #106

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 14, 1928 James B Monroe died of pneumonia, age 70. Bill Monroe was 16 years old when his father passed away.  *
  • January 14, 1946 Single released – Kentucky Waltz / Rocky Road Blues (Columbia 20013, 36907, 78rpm) **
  • January 14, 1954 Recording session –  At an evening session at the Bradley Studio in Hillsboro Village, Nashville, Bill Monroe recorded Happy on My Way, I’m Working on a Building, A Voice from on High and He Will Set Your Fields on Fire.In addition to Monroe [mandolin and vocals] also at the session were Jimmy Martin [guitar and vocals], Ernie Newton [bass], Charlie Cline [baritone vocals] and Milton Estes [bass vocals].  ***
  • January 14, 1967 Speed V Monroe died, age 72, in Jefferson County, Kentucky. That evening on the Grand Ole Opry Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys played Wayfaring Stranger on the mandolin, as a tribute to his older brother.  ****
  • January 14, 1986 Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys, Earl Scruggs, the Osborne Brothers, Jim & Jesse, Ricky Skaggs and the Whites were featured as part of a two hour Grand Ole Opry 60th Anniversary special broadcast on CBS-TV.
  • January 14, 1988 Recording session – During a third consecutive day of recordings for the Southern Flavor album (MCA-42133) Bill Monroe recorded three quartet numbers: Give Me Wings, What A Wonderful Life and Take Courage Un’ Tomorrow. Accompanying Monroe were Tom Ewing [guitar], Blake Williams [banjo], Emory Gordy Jr [bass], Mike Feagan [fiddle], Bobby Hicks [fiddle], Buddy Spicher [fiddle]. The producer was Emory Gordy Jr.
  • January 14, 1994 Bill Monroe and son James began a 16 date tour, Bill and James Monroe’s Father & Son 1994 Winter Tour, in Branson, Missouri.

* Bill Monroe’s father, J.B. or “Buck”, apparently continued his education through to the eighth grade, at a time when finishing after the fifth grade was normal. He had a good knowledge of simple arithmetic, keeping books that meticulously recorded his income and expenditure. Bill Monroe took great pride in this and has been reported as being angry that some of these records were left scattered in a barn. So much so, that he retrieved all that he could find.

Originally a timber merchant, J.B. also ran a general store, was a tenant farmer and later a land-owner who accumulated land adjacent to Pigeon Ridge and the better-known Jerusalem Ridge. Initially, he purchased 320 acres from his brother Jack and his wife and by the time that his youngest son was two years old J.B. had acquired as much as 655 acres.

That land yielded timber, coal, tobacco, corn and hay, and fed livestock.

J.B.’s grave stone is inscribed with the words “We Will Meet Again.”

** The Columbia single, Kentucky Waltz, b/w Rocky Road Blues, (36907), gave Monroe his debut disc on a Billboard chart. It was on the Most Played Juke Box Folk Records chart for six weeks and peaked at No. 3.

*** I’m Working on a Building, A Voice from on High and He Will Set Your Fields on Fire were included on the A Voice From on High LP (Decca DL 7-5135).

**** Speed Monroe married Jeanie E Clark and the couple had three children: Earol Dean, Rosetta Fay and Scottie Voheise.

He was an infantryman in the First World War.

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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.