I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky #265

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.

  • June 22, 1932 Pendleton M Vandiver [Uncle Pen] died in a one room log cabin near Rosine of bronchitis and double pneumonia, age 63.  *
  • June 22, 1967 The second day of the first outdoor bluegrass festival took place at Bean Blossom.

* Pendleton Vandiver, the brother to Bill Monroe’s mother Malissa, was the region’s best-known square dance fiddler. Monroe spoke of him as “the father I learned to play from.”  Monroe credited Vandiver with the two elements he considered most vital to bluegrass music; the fiddle and the timing.

He was a tradesman when young, but turned to farming in later life.

Vandiver is immortalized in the very popular Monroe song Uncle Pen, which he recorded on October 15, 1950.

“He was one of Kentucky’s finest old time fiddlers. And he had the best shuffle with a bow I’d ever seen, and kept the best time, that’s one reason people asked him to play for dances around Rosine.”

Bill Monroe, speaking of his illustrious uncle Pen

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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.