I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky #314

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.

  • August 10, 1927 James Henry ‘Jimmy’ Martin was born and raised in the farming town of Sneedville, in the Cumberland Mountains of east Tennessee.  *
  • August 10, 1960 Roger Drake played his second and last date, filling in on fiddle, with the Blue Grass Boys.  **
  • August 10, 1968 Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys participated in the Mariposa Folk Festival in Toronto, Canada. The Blue Grass Boys comprised Kenny Baker [fiddle], Vic Jordan [banjo], James Monroe [bass] and Roland White [guitar].

* Initially – about October 1949 – Jimmy Martin was employed by Bill Monroe just as a member of the Shenandoah Valley Trio, a group that Monroe used to open his shows at that time.

The 22 year-old Martin replaced Mac Wiseman about Christmas time 1949, taking over the lead singer / guitarist role in the Blue Grass Boys, and thus fulfilling a teenage dream. During intermittent spells with Monroe, Martin appeared on most of Monroe’s recording sessions between February 1950 and January 1954.

Those first recordings by Bill Monroe and Jimmy Martin – the first for Decca Records – established the high-lonesome sound and set the standard for Monroe’s recordings for years to come. Martin sang lead on such classics as Memories of You, Boat of Love, Lord Protect My Soul, Letter from my Darling, In the Pines, The Little Girl and the Dreadful Snake, I Hope You Have Learned, On and On, I Believed in You Darling Sitting Alone in the Moonlight, A Voice From On High and on the chorus to Uncle Pen.

In 1954 Martin formed his own band, the Sunny Mountain Boys.

** Drake’s second fill-in job was in Fairfax, Virginia. The Blue Grass Boys for this date were Porter Church [guitar], Rudy Lyle [banjo], Roger Drake [fiddle] and Tony Ellis [bass].

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.