I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky #204

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.

  • April 22, 1928 James H. ‘Jimmy’ Maynard was born in Temperance Hall, Tennessee. *
  • April 22, 1990 Claude Jackson ‘Jackie’ Phelps Jr. died at his home in Nashville, Tennessee. He had been suffering from heart disease.  **
  • April 22, 2003 CD released – Bill Monroe – Anthology (MCA Nashville 0889 113 207-2).

* Maynard was employed, initially, as a fill-in guitarist/lead singer with Bill Monroe in 1959 after playing with him casually backstage at the Opry.

He became a regular Blue Grass Boy for several stints during the first half of the 1960s and played on four recording sessions in 1961 and 1964. He can be heard sing lead on the chorus on the recording of Toy Heart, Shady Grove and Live and Let Live‘ and on four instrumentals. Each is included on the LP Blue Grass Ramble (Decca DL 4266).

He was a member of the band when Monroe made his Carnegie Hall debut in November 1961.

Before joining Monroe, Maynard worked with Curly Seckler, Curtis McPeake, and the McCormick Brothers. In the early 1960s he formed the Cumberland Mountain Boys, a group which also included Johnny Montgomery. McPeake and Charlie Smith, another former Blue Grass Boy, also played with the group at times.

** Phelps served as both guitarist and banjo player with Bill Monroe. When Lester Flatt left the band in 1948, Phelps came in as replacement guitarist and in 1954 he put in another stint as a Blue Grass Boy, playing a two-finger style banjo. He returned, briefly, to work for Monroe in 1963.

He was involved in five recording sessions. He can be heard singing lead on the recording of Let the Light Shine Down on Me. Also, he sang lead on A Voice from On High on an Al Gannaway-produced video.

In the mid-1950s Phelps joined Roy Acuff’s Smoky Mountain Boys. From 1969 through to 1986 Phelps was a regular cast member on the Hee Haw TV show, often in partnership with Jimmy Riddle doing the Eeephin’ & Hambone act.

*** Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys – Anthology, 2-CD set, 50 tracks

Distilling the four-disc Music of Bill Monroe down to 50 songs, this double-disc Anthology is a fine survey of the bluegrass pioneer’s career. Picking up in 1950 after Monroe’s breakthrough Columbia tenure, this set documents his 30-year Decca period and its song list reads like a Bluegrass 101 songbook, offering classic after classic. Like the greatest of jazz bandleaders, Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys band was a proving ground for aspiring bluegrass musicians and a springboard for their future solo success, with each incarnation of the group displaying its own distinct character. Vocal powerhouse Jimmy Martin helped propel Monroe’s stellar early-1950s band while other contributors include singers Del McCoury and Peter Rowan and elite pickers such as banjoists Bill Keith and Don Stover and fiddlers Richard Greene, Kenny Baker, Bobby Hicks, and Vassar Clements. Of course, Big Mon’s fiery high tenor vocals and feverish mandolin are the common threads.

Marc Greilsamer

Track listing – New Mule Skinner Blues, My Little Georgia Rose, Uncle Pen, Raw Hide, Kentucky Waltz, When the Cactus Is in Bloom, Get Down on Your Knees and Pray, In the Pines, Footprints in the Snow, Walking in Jerusalem, Get Up John, On and On, I’m Working on a Building, Blue Moon of Kentucky, Roanoke, Goodbye Old Pal, Molly and Tenbrooks, I’m Sitting on Top of the World, I Saw the Light, Scotland, Panhandle Country, Gotta Travel On, Big Mon, Linda Lou, Lonesome Road Blues, Time Changes Everything, I’m Going Back to Old Kentucky, Toy Heart, Live and Let Live, Old Joe Clark, Columbus Stockade Blues, Drifting Too Far from the Shore, Somebody Touched Me, Jimmy Brown the Newsboy, I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry, Devil’s Dream, Highway of Sorrow, Roll on Buddy, Roll On, (We’re Goin’) Just Over in the Gloryland, Fire on the Mountain, Long Black Veil, I Wonder Where You Are Tonight, Dusty Miller, Midnight on the Stormy Deep, Sally Goodin, Walls of Time, I Haven’t Seen Mary in Years, With Body and Soul, Walk Softly on My Heart and My Last Days on Earth.

Share this:

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.