I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky #144

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 21, 1927 Donald Wesley ‘Don’ Reno was born in Spartanburg, South Carolina. (see October 16) *

    February 21, 1996 Recording session for Billy and Terry Smith – Bill Monroe had his last session in a recording studio – at the Tracking Station Recording Studio, Nashville – with Billy and Terry Smith (Hazel Smith’s sons).   **

* Don Reno had the tough task of following Earl Scruggs as banjo picker with the Blue Grass Boys. However, with his own individual technique he didn’t disappoint Bill Monroe. He was a part of the Blue Grass Boys from March 1948 till July 1949, but they never recorded during that time.

Reno first met Bill Monroe in 1943 and Monroe offered him a job then. However, Reno was about to enter the service and he had wait for his discharge to replace Scruggs.

In addition to playing banjo, Reno sang lead and played guitar on gospel quartets.

Monroe said of him, “He would drive the banjo hard, and he was a good singer”.

** Bill Monroe assisted on the recording of three songs: Mule Skinner Blues, Walk Softly On This Heart Of Mine and Blue Moon Of Kentucky. These cuts appeared on the album Bill Monroe Tribute (K-Tel 3642-2).

Terry Smith is now the bass player in The Grascals. Billy Smith is a noted Nashville-based bluegrass and country music song writer.

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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.