I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky #166

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 15, 1941 James William Monroe was born in Nashville, Tennessee. *
  • March 15, 1947 Ryland Peter ‘Ry’ Cooder was born in Los Angeles, California. **
  • March 15, 1972 Recording Session – During another evening session at Bradley’s Barn Bill and James Monroe recorded Mother’s Only Sleeping, Foggy Mountain Top, Love Please Come Home and What Would You Give In Exchange? Also participating in the session were Jack Hicks [banjo], Monroe Fields [bass], and Kenny Baker and Tommy Williams [fiddle]. The producer was Walter Haynes. ***
  • March 15, 1996 The last public performance by Bill Monroe – Bill Monroe made his last public performance at the Friday Night Opry, Nashville, Tennessee.  (see March 16, April 5, April 12, April 24, July 2, September 9 and November 10) ****

* Bill Monroe’s only son joined the Blue Grass Boys, playing bass, initially, towards the end of 1964.  He switched to playing guitar and singing the lead vocal part in March 1969, replacing Roland White.

The younger Monroe featured in 35 recording sessions, with many of the cuts being featured on the Father & Son album (MCA 310) or on the LP Bill & James Monroe: Together Again (MCA 2367).

In 1971 he started his own band, the Midnight Ramblers.

A gifted songwriter, Monroe has written such favorites as Girl of My Dreams, Midnight Blues, Sweet Lucy, Tennessee Sunday and Snowing in Dixie.

He has recorded several bluegrass albums, including Midnight Blue; Satisfied Mind; Something New, Something Different, Something Good (all on the Atteiram label), My Father: In Memory of Bill Monroe and The Way I Am (Raintree), plus an all-gospel project, I Can Live Forever.

On March 15, 2008, Monroe was inducted into the North American Country Music Hall of Fame, an honor announced at the Country Tonite Theater in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

** Cooder filled-in, playing banjo, for a date with Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys in December 1963.

He is best known for his ability as a slide guitarist playing in an eclectic mixture of styles including blues, rock and roots music.

Cooder has worked as a session musician as well as a being a recording artist with over a dozen albums of his own.

A Grammy(R) winner four times over, Cooder’s collaboration with Cuban bandleader Juan de Marcos González produced the critically acclaimed Buena Vista Social Club album and its associated documentary film.

*** All of the recordings are among those included on the LP Bill Monroe and James Monroe: Father & Son (MCA310).

**** Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys played Watermelon on the Vine, the popular theme, Down Yonder, Stay Away From Me and True Life Blues.

The band members accompanying Monroe were Tom Ewing [guitar], Dana Cupp [banjo], Ernie Sykes [bass], Robert Bowlin [fiddle] and Tater Tate [fiddle].

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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.