I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky #122

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 30, 1946 Sandy Rothman was born in Miami, Florida. *
  • January 30, 1959 Recording Session – During a late evening session at Bradley Film & Recording Studio Bill Monroe recorded When the Phone Rang, Tomorrow I’ll Be Gone, Dark as the Night, Blue as the Day and Stoney Lonesome for Decca Records. In addition to Bill Monroe, Jack Cooke [guitar], Robert Lee Pennington [banjo], Bessie Lee Mauldin [bass] and the twin fiddles of Bobby Hicks and Charlie Smith were featured on these recordings. The producer and leader was Owen Bradley.  **
  • January 30, 1978 Recording Session – During an early evening session at Bradley’s Barn Bill and James Monroe recorded Jake Satterfield, Muddy Waters and Corrina, Corrina.  Also working in the studio were Butch Robins and Alan O’Bryant [banjo], Wayne Lewis [guitar], Randy Davis [bass], and Kenny Baker and James Bryan [fiddle]. The producer was Walter Haynes and the leader was James Monroe. ***
  • January 30, 1992 Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys fronted a Grand Ole Opry Spectacular Benefit for Keith McReynolds, at the Volunteer State Community College, Gallatin, Tennessee. Keith McReynolds, Jesse’s son and the bass player with Jim & Jesse and the Virginia Boys, was suffering with multiple sclerosis.

* Rothman played banjo and guitar for Bill Monroe during the summer of 1964. He played some fill-in dates for Dana Cupp and for Tom Ewing [guitar] at various Christmases during the early 1990s also.

Now a long-term resident in California, he had been very active in the San Francisco Bay Area after returning from years living in Ohion and Kentucky, but performs rarely these days. He has spent time with the Bay Ramblers, the Redwood Canyon Ramblers, the Pine Ridge Ramblers and the Black Mountain Boys, as well as looser aggregations.

Rothman has played with better-known names such as the Kentucky Colonels, Earl Taylor, Red Allen, Larry Sparks and Jimmie Skinner also.

He has a solo album, The Old Road to Home (Tone Bar TBR-146, 1993) and shares credits with Steve Pottier on Bluegrass Guitar Duets (Sierra SXCD-6013, also from 1991). The duo get together from time to time to pick for fun, but no longer makes personal appearances.

He was part of the Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band’s Almost Acoustic project and played and sang on Masuo Sasabe’s Yokohama Pickin’ Party album (Tone Bar TBR-3), both projects that Rothman produced.

** According to Charlie Smith, Bill Monroe used Bill Thomas’s F-12 mandolin at this session.

*** All three recordings, which feature James Monroe singing lead, were included on the LP Bill and James Monroe: Together Again (MCA-2367), released on June 15, 1978.

UPDATE 1/31: We heard from Sandy Rothman over the weekend, and he pointed a few inaccuracies which have been corrected in the text above. He also shared a few comments to more clearly describe his time with Monroe and others.

“I played banjo as well as guitar with Bill, but primarily sang lead vocals and tried to play guitar. I had a few opportunities for guest vocal appearances with Bill over the years, for example in the photo above, at Bean Blossom in 1971 or ’72.

I was never a Redwood Canyon Ramblers member except for one show, filling in, in 1963 or so. The longest-term bands I had together were The B Natural Boys (with Tom Ewing), High & Lonesome (with Pat Enright), and the Bay Ramblers (with Alan Senauke).

The Kentucky Colonels are old friends, but I never played with them except for a guest vocal in 1964. Living in Ohio I played in Wayne Lewis’s band (before he joined the Blue Grass Boys) and the The B Natural Boys, but Earl Taylor was my main job.”

Thanks Sandy!

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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.