I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky #150

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.

Throughout Bill Monroe’s career he has had a variety of managers and agents. He and his family members have also supervised certain aspects of his business.

There is some overlap at certain times and I put that down to lack of exclusivity.

Can anyone add anything to this, please?

  • 1934 to 1938 – Birch, Charlie and Bill Monroe / Byron Parker
  • 1938 to 1978 – Carolyn Monroe, Bill Monroe’s first wife.
  • 1947 – Gene Dudley
  • Mid 1953 to 1955 – Carlton Haney, booking agent. Born on September 19, 1928, Reidsville, North Carolina
  • 1963 – Ralph Rinzler. Rinzler worked to revitalize Bill Monroe’s career by booking him at folk music venues, organizing re-issue of 1950s-vintage recordings and writing about him in various music publications. According to Tom Ewing, for “four years Rinzler was involved in every aspect of Monroe’s re-emergence as a major star”. (Bill Monroe: A Reader) Born on July 20, 1934, in New York City. Died on July 2, 1994, in Washington DC.
  • 1963 – Lloyd George (aka Ken Marvin), from about 1963, he began booking shows for Bill Monroe, working with Ralph Rinzler at Bill Monroe Associates serving as “exclusive agent”.
  • 1965 – Howdy Forrester, in 1965 Roy Acuff made Forrester the manager of the Acuff-Rose Artists’ Corporation (ARAC), Personal Appearance Division. Bill Monroe was one of the artists for whom Forrester was responsible. Born on March 31, 1922, in Vernon, Tennessee. Died on August 1, 1987, in Bellevue, Tennessee.
  • 1970s – Hazel Smith, a friend of Bill Monroe’s who worked in his office for a while. Born in Caswell County, North Carolina.
  • Circa 1980 – Self-managed; Monroe Talent Enterprises, Inc. / James Monroe
  • 1978 to 1996 – Tony Conway. Conway, of Buddy Lee Attractions, Inc. worked with Bill Monroe as his agent initially. From late in 1985 he started managing him also. Born on August 3, 1953 in Louisville, Kentucky.

Hazel Smith, whose words to him, “Walk softly, you’re walking on my heart”, prompted Bill Monroe to pen the ‘true’ song Walk Softly on My Heart, shares her thoughts about him …..

“Bill Monroe was unbelievably blessed with God-given talent. Shy, laconic, bad-eye sight from birth, Bill listened to sounds nobody else heard; the fox hound’s bark, the lonesome freight train, the whip-poor-will’s or the wild geese call, Arnold Schultz’s bluesy guitar playing, Uncle Pen’s fiddling. Bill integrated all the sounds of the mountains into his music.

With very little education, he single-handedly developed the framework of bluegrass music and began sharing it like a precious packaged gift to the world in October 1939 when Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys made their historic debut on the Stage of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee.

Like the great Bob Dylan said, ‘Bill Monroe is the only person in the 20th century to develop their own music style.’

Long live bluegrass music. Long live the reign of the legendary Bill Monroe.”

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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.