I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky #127

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.

  • February 4, 1906 Art Wooten was born in Sparta, Alleghany County, North Carolina.   *
  • February 4, 1931 Clarence E ‘Tater’ Tate was born Gate City, Scott County, Virginia.   **
  • February 4, 1981 Recording session – For the second successive evening Bill Monroe was in the studio to record three instrumentals; in this session he cut Lochwood, Old Danger Field and Fair Play. Assisting were Wayne Lewis [guitar], Butch Robins [banjo], Mark Hembree [bass] and Kenny Baker [fiddle]. The producer was Walter Haynes. ***

** Art Wooten, an old-time fiddler, began working for Bill Monroe in 1939 and stayed with him until 1940 when he went into the Navy.

He returned for a further stint in 1941 through to 1942.

Wooten was involved in one recording session; that on October 2, 1941, recording eight numbers, including the fiddle tunes Orange Blossom Special and Back Up and Push.

Bill Monroe once said of him, “The old-time fiddle numbers, he was hard to beat”.

** ‘Tater’ Tate joined the Blue Grass Boys in September 1956, replacing Bobby Hicks, and he stayed with Bill Monroe for a little over six months.

He re-joined the Blue Grass Boys in June 1984, switching between playing the bass and the fiddle, and staying with the band for the remainder of Monroe’s career. Tate participated in 11 recording sessions, the first of which was on May 2, 1985.

Tate can be heard playing the bass on the albums Bill Monroe and Stars of the Bluegrass Hall of Fame, Bluegrass ’87 and Southern Flavor, and playing the fiddle on Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys Live at the Opry and Crying Holy unto the Lord.

Also, he sang bass on the recording of quartet numbers such as The Old Crossroads, What a Wonderful Life, A Beautiful Life, Harbor of Love and He’ll Take You In.

Tate was sometimes jokingly introduced by Monroe as “Tater Tater Tater Tate”.

*** All three instrumentals were included on the Bill Monroe: Master of Bluegrass LP (MCA -5214), released on July 2, 1981.

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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.