I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky #27

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 27, 1947 Recording session –  In two separate ‘sittings’ at the CBS Studio, Radio Station WBBM, The Wrigley Building, Chicago, Bill Monroe recorded eight original songs – I’m Going Back to Old Kentucky, It’s Mighty Dark to Travel, I Hear a Sweet Voice Calling, Little Cabin Home on the Hill, My Rose of Old Kentucky, Blue Grass Breakdown, Sweetheart, You Done Me Wrong and The Old Cross Road.This was the second session by the ‘classic’ line-up – Monroe [mandolin and vocals], Lester Flatt [guitar and vocals], Earl Scruggs [banjo], Howard Watts [bass] and Chubby Wise [fiddle]. The producer was Art Satherley.

    Each of the recordings became classics and the seven songs and the one instrumental would be played and sung by bluegrass musicians far and wide.

  • October 27, 1958 Curly Bradshaw died, age 46.  *
  • October 27, 1984 Saburo Watanabe Inoue filled-in playing bass on the last date of Bill Monroe’s 1984 tour of Japan. The concert date took place at the Drama-Theatre Domo at Ebetsu-city, Hokkaido. **
  • October 27, 1986 Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys were the headline act on a four-day bluegrass cruise between Miami, Florida and Nassau, Bahamas. The Blue Grass Boys comprised Tom Ewing [guitar], Blake Williams [banjo], Mark Squires [fiddle] and ‘Tater’ Tate [bass]. Also taking part in this first bluegrass cruise were the Osborne Brothers, the Lewis Family, Jim & Jesse, and Mac Wiseman.

* Bradshaw played guitar and harmonica with the Blue Grass Boys (1941 and 1944-1945).

** Banjo player Watanabe was a founder member of the Japanese band Bluegrass 45 that recorded two albums for Rebel Records. He started the mail order record sales company B.O.M. Service in 1971 and the associated label Red Clay Records two years later. In 1983 he started MoonShiner, the monthly Japanese bluegrass journal. In 1995 Watanabe was presented with the IBMA Award of Merit and in 1998 he was chosen as the IBMA’s Print Media Personality of the Year.

“Wayne Lewis called me and informed me that Kenny Baker had quit. He asked me to find the bass player for Japan tour Oct 19th to 28th, 1984. I recommended Tatsuya Imai to play the bass …however I took the job for the last night.

I also remember he called Friday night Grand Ole Opry from his room to celebrate the 45th anniversary of his Opry debut.”

Sab Watanabe

Just for fun, here’s a clip of Bluegrass 45 from their hey day in 1971. Sab is on banjo.

Their performance from which this clip was taken can be found in the oustanding documentary film, Bluegrass Country Soul.

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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.