I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky #114

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 22, 1916 Robert E ‘Bob’ “Handy” Jamieson was born in Ripley, Mississippi. *
  • January 22, 1978 NBC broadcast of Fifty Years of Country Music – The recording of Bill Monroe singing Blue Moon of Kentucky and a duet version of Mule Skinner Blues, pairing Monroe with co-host Dolly Parton, both of which were made on January 11, 1978, was broadcast during the televising of Fifty Years of Country Music.  **

* Fiddle player Bob Jamieson was the first person Bill Monroe recruited for his first fledgling band, when the pair got together in the summer of 1938.

After the Monroe brothers parted in 1938, Bill Monroe moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where in June or July of that year he met the 22-year-old Jamieson, after a recommendation from radio station WMC staff in the city.

Along with Jamieson, Willie ‘Bill’ Wesbrooks and Charles ‘Chuck’ Haire, who shared the lead vocal, string bass and guitar duties, Monroe formed his first band, commonly known as the Kentuckians.

As there wasn’t any radio work in Memphis, the foursome moved to Little Rock, Arkansas, where they were given a weekly, 15-minute slot on KARK, an NBC affiliated radio station.

According to Jamieson, Bill Monroe had already stated to him his intention to call the band, The Blue Grass Boys. However, the local Arkansas Democrat newspaper called them as the Kentucky Blue Grass Boys in their radio listings. Later they were listed as Bill Monroe and the Kentuckians.

The band played a full schedule of show dates and worked on KARK on and off but through to mid November. When their show on KARK ended the band broke up and Bill Monroe left Ripley and moved to Nashville in search of other musicians.

Jamieson continued to play music, but only on a part-time basis. In 1941, he and wife moved to Memphis.

** The recording of Mule Skinner Blues is included on the soundtrack album.

Also sharing the hosting duties during the 140 minute programme were Glen Campbell and Roy Clark.

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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.