I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky #298

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 25, 1935 Lonnie Hoppers was born in Urbana, Missouri. *
  • July 25, 1950 William O’Neal ‘Bill’ Holden was born. **
  • July 25, 1953 EP released – Kentucky Waltz / Footprints In The Snow / I Hear A Sweet Voice Calling / Blue Grass Stomp (Columbia H 1709)
  • July 25, 1966 Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys began appearing nightly for two weeks at the Black Poodle club in Printer’s Alley, Nashville, Tennessee.
  • July 25, 1977 Recording session – During an evening session at Bradley’s Barn Bill Monroe recorded Christmas Time’s A-Coming, Texas Blue Bonnet and The Sunset Trail for MCA Records. ?In the studio with Monroe were James Monroe and Wayne Lewis [guitar], Bill Holden [banjo], Randy Davis [bass] and Buddy Spicher [fiddle]. The producer was Walter Haynes. ***

* Lonnie Hoppers, who started playing banjo professionally at the age of 17 as an original member of the Ozark Opry, made his debut with the Blue Grass Boys when in 1957 he filled in for Joe Stuart. He joined the band full-time in September 1962 and left in January 1963.

He participated in three recording sessions during that winter period, recording 10 songs, including Careless Love, I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry and Darling Corey, and two instrumentals, Big Sandy River and Baker’s Breakdown. He played guitar on Pass Me Not.

After leaving the Blue Grass Boys, Hoppers settled in the Kansas City area and for about 10 years played with rising flatpick guitarist Dan Crary. Then from about 1978 he played for six seasons at the Silver Dollar City theme park in Branson, Missouri.

In the 1990s Hoppers and Crary reunited and recorded an album, Crary and Hoppers and Their American Band, released in 2000. He currently leads Lonnie Hoppers and New Union.

** Bill Holden, predominantly a banjo player, also played guitar while with the Blue Grass Boys during what amounted to two stints with Bill Monroe. The first was from September 1976 to January 1977 and then for a couple of months during the summer of 1977.

He played banjo at five sessions with six recordings included on the LP Bill Monroe Sings Bluegrass, Body And Soul (MCA 2251), released on January 10, 1977, and all ten recordings included on the LP Bill Monroe: Bluegrass Memories (MCA 2315). The second album includes a recording of Holden’s composition Pinewood Valley.

Around this period Holden played with the Country Gentlemen, recording some tracks for the Gospel album Calling My Children Home and playing banjo and singing baritone on the LP Joe’s Last Train.

More recently, he played banjo on Peter Rowan’s Reggaebilly album (1999).

*** All three of the recordings were included on the LP Bill Monroe: Bluegrass Memories (MCA-2315), released on October 3, 1977.

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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.