I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky #115

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 23, 1936 Bobby Smith was born in Cookeville, Tennessee. *
  • January 23, 1967 Recording Session – During an evening session at the Columbia Recording Studio Bill Monroe recorded Kirk McGee’s Blue Night and the instrumental Grey Eagle for Decca Records. Assisting were Peter Rowan [guitar], Lamar Grier [banjo], James Monroe [bass] and Richard Greene [fiddle]. The producer was Harry Silverstein and Ray Edenton was listed as leader. **
  • January 23, 1973 Tom Holt filled-in on bass deputising for Monroe Fields at a show at the Chattanooga Convention Centre.  ***
  • January 23, 1982 Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys appeared on the Hee Haw TV show for a salute to Rosine, Kentucky, the home of the Monroe brothers.
  • January 23, 2005 Art Stamper died, age 71, at Norton Audubon Hospital, in Louisville, Kentucky, after a four-year battle with throat cancer. ****

* Smith, a cousin of Lester Flatt, played guitar with the Blue Grass Boys for a while starting in November 1960.

**  Blue Night was included on the Blue Grass Time LP (Decca DL 4896), released on June 12, 1967.

Grey Eagle remained un-issued until included on the Bear Family set Bill Monroe: Bluegrass 1959 – 1969 (BCD 15529 DH), released on February 1, 1991.

*** Tom Holt remembers –

“In the winter of 1972/1973 I traveled with James Monroe, following the release of the Father and Son album, with Bill.

That winter tour was called the Bluegrass Express and featured Bill Monroe, James Monroe, Lester Flatt, along with Jim & Jesse. Marty Stuart was Lester’s mandolin player during that tour.

The Blue Grass Boys consisted of Joe Stuart on guitar, Jack Hicks on banjo, Kenny Baker on fiddle, and Monroe Fields on bass.

Following that tour, Monroe Fields was sick for the weekend and Bill asked me to play bass with them. We traveled to Chattanooga for a show at the Convention Center for the Cancer Foundation.

Also on that show were the Osborne Brothers and, I believe, Jim & Jesse.

I recall as we traveled to Chattanooga, I was asked to sing lead in the quartet and we sang Workin’ on a Building. I sang, ‘I’m workin’ on a building, I’m working on a building.’ Bill interrupted me and said, ‘That ain’t right….it’s buildun, not building.’ He was right….he rightfully insisted that we all phrase the same way.

The night was memorable for me, in that our show was interrupted by the MC who came to the microphone and announced that the President had just signed a peace treaty in Paris and the Vietnam War was over. The news brought a standing ovation.”

**** Art Stamper started playing fiddle around the age of nine, learning the art from his father, Hiram, and by the age of 16 he had already played with professionals such as Jim McReynolds, Buster Pack and the Sauceman Brothers. In the early 1950s he was playing regularly with the Stanley Brothers. By the mid 1950s Stamper had joined the Osborne Brothers and Red Allen.

He left music for a career as a hairdresser only to return in the late 1970s to do some recording with the Goins Brothers. Later he played with Bill Clifton and Red Rector.

Stamper’s own recordings can be found on the Old Homestead and County labels.

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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.