I’m Going Back to Old Kentucky #18

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.

  • October 18, 1936 Bill Monroe married Carolyn Minnie Brown in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
  • October 18, 1969 In honor of Bill Monroe’s 30 year stint as a cast member of the Grand Ole Opry, Governor Louie B Nunn of Kentucky designated October 18 as Bill Monroe Day, celebrated in Madisonville, Kentucky, with a parade, luncheon among other events. Monroe gave renditions of Mule Skinner Blues, Blue Moon of Kentucky and Kentucky Waltz.
  • October 18, 1981 Tim Smith filled in, playing fiddle, with the Blue Grass Boys.  *

* Smith is a veteran bluegrass fiddler, perhaps mostly remembered for his service as a member of the Bluegrass Cardinals (1979-1982). He has worked with Jim and Jesse, Del McCoury, the Lost and Found, the Virginia Squires, Wes Golding, The Country Gentlemen, The Churchmen and the Blinky Moon Boys. As well as having four solo albums, he has recorded with James King, The Country Gentlemen, the McPeak Brothers, Jim Eanes, Blue Ridge and The Churchmen.

In 1977 Smith won the prestigious 1st place fiddle prize at the famed Galax Fiddlers Convention at Galax and in 1978 he won the world championship fiddle prize at the equally famous Union Grove Fiddlers Convention at Union Grove, North Carolina.

Speaking of his Monroe moment, Tim says…

“Bill hired me to play two shows with him and the Blue Grass Boys on 10-18-1981 at Parkers Lake, Kentucky (Tombstone Junction Park). Kenny Baker had just left the Blue Grass Boys and Bill needed a fiddler for these two shows. Two shows that I will never forget as long as I shall live!

I have a couple of photo’s and a live recording of the shows, which I am very thankful to have. I actually worked double duty that day by performing with The Bluegrass Cardinals, where I had held the fiddle chair for the past three years. Our booking agent, Lance Leroy helped coordinate my becoming one of Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boy’s for that day. What was amazing was that a photo of me ended up in Bill Monroe’s Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee, and I also received one of the limited edition Bill Monroe belt buckles, that was given to all his Blue Grass Boys that ever worked for him.

I wish I could have done more with Bill, but I would like to say that I am grateful and honored to have been able to contribute this small part.”

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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.