I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky #23

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 23, 1939 Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys auditioned for the Grand Ole Opry. The band at that time comprised Monroe [mandolin], Cleo Davis [guitar], Art Wooten [fiddle], Amos Garren [string bass].  *
  • October 23, 1948 Single released – Mule Skinner Blues/Blue Yodel No. 7 [Anniversary Blue Yodel] (RCA Victor 20 – 3163, 78rpm)

* “Mule Skinner Blues and John Henry were the numbers we tried out with,” Bill Monroe once told Jim Rooney. Cleo Davis’s memory of the same event is somewhat different: “They put us in one of the studios and we really put on the dog. We started out with Foggy Mountain Top, then Bill and I did a duet tune with a duet yodel, fast as white lightning. We came back with the Mule Skinner Blues and Fire on the Mountain, and I think that really sewed it up.” The Opry representatives, Judge Hay and David Stone, liked what they heard and told Monroe “if you ever leave the Opry, it’ll be because you’ve fired yourself.”

© Extract from Bluegrass: A History, Neil V. Rosenberg, University of Illinois Press.
Used with permission.

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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.