I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky #131

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 8, 1954 Single released – Y’All Come / Change Partners (Decca 29021).
  • February 8, 1963 The Friends Of Old Time Music sponsored Bill Monroe’s first concert in New York City. The event took place at the New York University School of Education.
  • February 8, 1978 Recording session – During an evening session at Bradley’s Barn Bill Monroe and James Monroe recorded Have a Feast Here Tonight, Golden River, I’m Going Back to Old Kentucky and Those Memories of You. With the duo were Wayne Lewis [guitar], Butch Robins and Alan O’Bryant [both playing banjo], Randy Davis [bass], and Kenny Baker and James Bryan [both playing fiddle]. The producer was Walter Haynes. *
  • February 8, 1983 Bessie Lee Mauldin, long-time partner of Bill Monroe, passed away in Norwood, North Carolina, age 62. She had been ill for some time following a heart attack. **
  • February 8, 1997 A Bluegrass Tribute to Bill Monroe was broadcast on Austin City Limits.
  • February 8, 2003 Ralph ‘Joe’ Meadows died of a massive heart attack at his home in Silver Spring, Maryland. He was 68 and he had been fighting cancer for several years.  ***

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

** Bessie Lee Mauldin was a companion of Bill Monroe’s for many of the years during which she was a member of the Blue Grass Boys.

In the fall of 1964, she left the band and looked after the 288-acre farm in Sumner County that Monroe had bought in 1954.

She left the farm in 1976 and went to live in Hendersonville for a brief time, before returning to North Carolina.

*** At the age of 16, Joe Meadows began performing with the Goins Brothers, around Bluefield, West Virginia, where he worked until the fall of 1952, when he joined the Stanley Brothers.

He stayed with the Stanley Brothers until the spring of 1955 and recorded some 30 songs with Carter and Ralph, including their version of Orange Blossom Special.

After leaving the Stanley Brothers, Meadows performed briefly with the Lilly Brothers and then joined Jim & Jesse and the Virginia Boys at the WWVA Wheeling Jamboree, moving with them to Live Oak, Florida.

After leaving Bill Monroe in 1957 he returned home to West Virginia where he continued to perform, firstly with Bill and Mary Reed, and then with Buddy Starcher.

In 1974 Meadows began touring and recording once again with the Goins Brothers. However, it wasn’t long before Jim and Jesse hired him for a second stint, this one lasting from 1974 through to1980. After 1983, Meadows lived in the Washington, DC area, where he continued to perform until his passing.

He has several albums of his own, including Mountains, Rivers and Meadows (Patuxent Records), Portrait of a Fiddler (Old Homestead) and Fiddle Instrumentals (Vetco).

On being asked to become a Blue Grass Boy, Meadows commented, “of course that just thrilled me to death.”

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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.