I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky #116

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 24, 1936 Douglas James Kershaw was born at Tiel Ridge, Cameron Parish, Louisiana.  *
  • January 24, 1978 Recording Session – During an evening session for MCA Records at Bradley’s Barn Bill Monroe recorded three songs: Hard Times Have Been Here, Six Feet under the Ground and Who’s Gonna Shoe Your Pretty Little Feet. The musicians in the studio with him were James Monroe and Wayne Lewis [sharing guitar duties], Butch Robins and Alan O’ Bryant [sharing banjo responsibilities], Kenny Baker and James Earl Bryan [covering the fiddle duties], and Randy Davis [bass]. The producer was Walter Haynes and the leader was Bill Monroe. **
  • January 24, 1983 Ohio County (Kentucky) Judge-Executive C B Embry Jnr issued a proclamation honoring the county’s famous native son Bill Monroe.

* Normally a fiddle player, Doug Kershaw played guitar when assisting in the recording of his own song, Sally-Jo, recorded on December 15, 1957.

A fiddle player from the age of five, Kershaw, with his brother Rusty, were regulars on the Louisiana Hayride and the WWVA Jamboree, before, in 1957, being signed by the Grand Ole Opry.

After service in the Army, he returned to the music business and had great success with an autobiographical song that he wrote called Louisiana Man, a Top 10 country hit in 1961. Kershaw almost matched that success with its follow-up recording, Diggy Liggy Lo. On the back of these hits, he made network television appearances and earned a week-long engagement at New York City’s Fillmore East in support of Derek and the Dominos.

He signed a long-term recording contract with Warner Bros Records and moved from being a major figure in the popularization of Cajun music to a popular figure in mainstream urban America as he played for packed audiences at major concert halls.

The 1970s were as good for Kershaw as were the 1960s, but in 1981 he peaked with his biggest selling hit, Hello Woman, which reached the country music Top 40. In 1988, he recorded a duet, Cajun Baby, with Hank Williams Jnr.

Although his recording output has diminished since the turn of the century, the Ragin’ Cajun, as Kershaw was known, has continued performing right up to the present day.

In 2009, Kershaw was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.

** James Monroe sang the lead on Hard Times Have Been Here and Who’s Gonna Shoe Your Pretty Little Feet.

All three songs were included on the LP Bill and James Monroe: Together Again (MCA-2367), released on June 15, 1978.

Alan O’ Bryant and James Earl Bryan were members of James Monroe’s band at the time.

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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.