I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky #282

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.

  • July 9, 1923 Lloyd Loar signed off a Gibson F-5 Master model mandolin [No. 73987] as tested and approved. *
  • July 9, 1929 Jesse Lester McReynolds was born in Carfax, Virginia. **
  • July 9, 1941 Clonnie ‘David’ Deese Jr. was born near Salisbury, North Carolina.  ***
  • July 9, 1943 Eric White Jr. was born in Lewiston, Maine.  ****
  • July 9, 1976 Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys appeared at The First Annual Lost Acres Bluegrass Festival, Glenwood, Indiana.

* In January 1945, Bill Monroe bought this mandolin in a barber’s shop in Miami, Florida. Monroe paid $150 for the mandolin and case. Monroe used this mandolin on his first Columbia recording session, about a month later, on February 13, 1945.

“Listen to how it rings, and keeps on ringing.”

Bill Monroe

** Mandolin player Jesse McReynolds played on the Masters Of Bluegrass and the Bill Monroe And Stars Of The Bluegrass Hall Of Fame albums.

He played also, with his brother Jim, on the original Bean Blossom album (MCA 2-8002), singing baritone on the song I Wonder Where You Are Tonight. A small selection from the Jim & Jesse and the Virginia Boys sets from during the week ending June 16, 1973, were included on that album.

Jim & Jesse and the Virginia Boys were among the first followers of Bill Monroe in the bluegrass music lineage. Their close harmony duets, the choice of some unusual material and Jesse’s cross-picking style of playing the mandolin set them apart from the others player bluegrass music during the period from 1947 to 2002, when Jim McReynolds passed away.

They recorded for Capitol Records, Columbia, Epic, Opryland, CMH, Rounder Records and their own label, Old Dominion, during their career, releasing many classics.

Jim & Jesse traveled worldwide taking their music to Canada, Mexico, Japan, many parts of Europe and to Africa. Members of the Grand Ole Opry since March 1964, they have been honored with many accolades including the National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship Award, induction into the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Hall of Honor and many lesser titles.

Jesse McReynolds has continued to lead the Virginia Boys and record many fine albums as well as to work with Charles Whitstein, singing brother duets, and to be a significant part of The Masters, with Kenny Baker, Eddie Adcock and Josh Graves.

*** David Deese was the banjo player for Bill Monroe from July 1962 for a few months, leaving in September of that year, being replaced by Lonnie Hoppers.

He didn’t play on any recording sessions.

**** Eric White filled-in playing bass with Bill Monroe on May 13, 1967.

White is brother to Clarence and Roland of the White Family – formed in 1952 – and the Country Boys.  He left the latter in 1961.

However, he played with one version of the Kentucky Colonels from early in 1966 through to May 1967.

During the 1970s he was a member of The Reasons, an electrified country band, in Linda Ronstadt’s country-rock group Swampwater, and worked for a while for Jack Reeves, “an imitator,” according to White.

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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.