I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky #164

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.

  • March 13, 1950 Single released – Travellin’ This Lonesome Road / Can’t You Hear Me Callin’? (Columbia 20676, 33rpm, 2-551).
  • March 13, 1993 The Legends of Bluegrass, headed by Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys, performed at the Patriot Center, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA.  *
  • March 13, 2001 Benny Martin died in Nashville, age 73.  **

* The Legends of Bluegrass were Bill Monroe, Ralph Stanley, Mac Wiseman and Jim & Jesse McReynolds.

** Benny Martin learned to play the fiddle, guitar and ukulele as a child and was only in his early teens when he left home to pursue a career as a country musician in Nashville.

In January1948 while working on Radio WLAC he was called by Bill Monroe to replace Chubby Wise. He left the Blue Grass Boys the following year and joined Reno & Smiley, starting an on-off working relationship with Reno that lasted for 17 years.

Martin toured and recorded with Flatt & Scruggs briefly in the early 1950s. In the 1960s he toured with Roy Acuff. He performed and recorded with the Stanley Brothers, Jimmy Martin, the Stonemans and Johnny & Jack.

A member of the Grand Ole Opry, he had his own show, The Benny Martin Show, and recorded for Starday, Mercury, Flying Fish and CMH Records before fall foul of spasmodic dysphonia. However, in the late 1990s he overcame that to record two albums for OMS Records.

Known affectionately as ‘the Big Tiger’, Martin was an enthusiastic and lively fiddler and a popular entertainer for almost five decades. His influence can be heard in Michael Cleveland’s playing.

Martin is buried in the Forest Lawn Memorial Gardens on Dickerson Pike, Goodlettsville, TN.

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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.