I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky #29

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 29, 1937 Roland ‘Sonny’ Osborne born in Hyden, in the coal-mining region of south-eastern Kentucky. Osborne first joined the Blue Grass Boys at the age of 14 during the summer of 1952, staying for a couple of months and featuring in two recording sessions. He re-joined in May 1953, leaving in August of that year.  *
  • October 29, 1939 Earl Snead born. Sneed was first recruited by Bill Monroe to play the banjo in January 1958 for a three-month spell and then for two months during the winter of 1970/1971. **
  • October 29, 1994 The first in The Concert Series at The Ryman aired. It featured Bill Monroe, Marty Stuart, and Jerry and Tammy Sullivan.

* Osborne, the younger of the two influential brothers, with Bobby, who played bluegrass music together for 50 years, was involved in two recording sessions while a Blue Grass Boy. In the former, on July 18, 1952, the band cut eight sides: In The Pines, Footprints In the Snow, Walking In Jerusalem, Memories of Mother and Dad, The Little Girl and the Dreadful Snake, Country Waltz, Don’t Put It Off ‘Til Tomorrow and My Dying Bed. Assisting Bill Monroe were Jimmy Martin [guitar], Sonny Osborne [banjo], Charlie Cline [fiddle] and studio session man Ernie Newton [bass]. Songwriter Boudleaux Bryant sang the bass lines on the quartet Walking In Jerusalem.

The second session took place about a week later – July 26 – when the same basic personnel, and Owen Bradley [piano, on the first number] recorded Mighty Pretty Waltz and the instrumental Pike County Breakdown.

Osborne, a member of the Grand Ole Opry, was inducted into Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Hall of Fame in 1984.

** Snead participated in the Decca session on January 13, 1971, when the Blue Grass Boys recorded Summertime is Past and Gone, Rocky Road Blues, Muleskinner Blues and Katy Hill. Other band members were James Monroe [guitar], the ubiquitous Joe Stuart [bass] and Kenny Baker [fiddle]. The producer was Walter Haynes.

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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.