I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky #182

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 31, 1922 Howard Wilson ‘Big Howdy’ Forrester was born in Vernon, Hickman County, Tennessee.  *
  • March 31, 1926 Thomas Lee ‘Tommy’ Jackson Jnr was born in Birmingham, Alabama.  **
  • March 31, 1989 Tom Ewing returned to the Blue Grass Boys.
  • March 31, 1995 Carl Story died, age 78, in Greenville Memorial Hospital, Greenville, South Carolina, following triple bypass heart surgery. ***

*** Forrester played fiddle with Bill Monroe for four months from June 1942 and, after his discharge from the army, he returned for another four month spell ending in March 1946.

He didn’t play on any formal recording sessions while a Blue Grass Boy, but he was one of the many illustrious guest fiddlers who performed during one of the on-stage jams recorded at Bean Blossom in June 1973. The recording of all three of the well-known tunes, Down Yonder, Soldier’s Joy and Grey Eagle played just before the finale, are included on the Bean Blossom album (MCA 2-8002).

Monroe said of Forrester, “… (he) played some pretty bluegrass music. Moreover, [Howdy] was the first man with me to play double stops.”

** Tommy Jackson was one of many top-rated musicians who participated in a Bill Monroe recording session. In Jackson’s case, he played fiddle during three sessions, one of them in March 1951, the others in the spring of 1957.

The first was the all-Nashville studio-musician session set up to record Kentucky Waltz to cover a recently recorded version of the song by Eddy Arnold.

For the last session Jackson is one of three fiddlers who worked the recording of Cry, Cry Darling and I’m Sitting on Top of the World for the album Knee Deep In Blue Grass (Decca DL 8731).

*** Carl Story worked for Bill Monroe following Howdy Forrester’s enlistment into the Navy. About a year later Story was drafted also.

Story began his involvement in music in the early 1930s when he began hosting his own radio show in Lynchburg, Virginia. In 1935 he moved to Spartanburg, South Carolina, to join a group called The Lonesome Mountaineers, before Story and fellow band member Johnnie Whisnant left the group to form The Rambling Mountaineers.

After his discharge from the Navy he re-formed The Rambling Mountaineers and began touring and playing on radio stations all over the country.

In 1947, Story signed for Mercury Records for whom he recorded both secular and gospel songs. From the early 1950s he became a major act on the bluegrass festival circuit, began to specialize more and more in gospel material and to develop a name as the ‘Father of Bluegrass Gospel Music’.

As well as recording for Mercury, Story has releases on the Columbia, Starday, King, Cattle, Old Homestead, Attieram and CMH labels.

A Bear Family box-set of Carl Story recordings is imminent.

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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.