I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky #302

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 29, 1939 Paul Anthony ‘Tony’ Ellis was born in Sylva, North Carolina. *
  • July 29, 1983 Ohio County (Kentucky) staged its first bluegrass festival – a three day event – in Hartford, the county seat.

* Tony Ellis had a life-long burning desire to play banjo for Bill Monroe. His dream became reality in February 1960. He stayed with the Blue Grass Boys for two and a half years and he participated in eight recording sessions that produced 25 sides in all.

Primarily a banjo-player, he played bass during his first session – one in which they recorded Blue Grass Part 1. While playing banjo he recorded Journey’s End, Bugle Call Rag, Cheap Love Affair, Columbus Stockade Blues, How Will I Explain About You and We’ll Understand It Better.

Since leaving Monroe, Ellis has established a reputation for an innovative banjo-playing style and his rich, lyrical compositions, which he often plays solo. Many of these tunes can be found on two albums – Dixie Banner and Farewell My Home – on the Flying Fish label, Quaker Girl (County Records) and The Quest (BR 609).

He participated in the National Council for Traditional Arts’ acclaimed 1993 Masters of the Banjo tour. Samples from those concerts were released on the Arhoolie album Masters of the Banjo.

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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.