I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky #339

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.

  • September 4, 1951 Single released – Get Down On Your Knees And Pray / I’ll Meet You In Church Sunday Morning (Decca 46351)
  • September 4, 1952 Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys appeared in Norton, Virginia. The band included the 14 year old Sonny Osborne, alongside Jimmy Martin and Charlie Cline.
  • September 4, 1954 Recording session – At an afternoon recording session at Castle Studio (Tulane Hotel) Bill Monroe responded to Elvis Presley’s version of the song by re-recording Blue Moon of Kentucky; this time for the Decca label. Assisting were Edd Mayfield [guitar], Ernie Newton [bass] and Gordon Terry, Red Taylor and Charlie Cline [all playing fiddle].  *
  • September 4, 1971 Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys was the headline band at Bill Monroe’s own First Texas Lone Star Bluegrass Festival, Garland, Texas. The event took place over three days.
  • September 4, 1986 Bill Monroe celebrated the grand opening of the new Bill Monroe Bluegrass Hall of Fame & Country Star Museum during the fall Bean Blossom festival. The museum had previously been located in Nashville, Tennessee.
  • September 4, 1992 Carl Butler died of a massive heart attack, at his home in Franklin, Tennessee.  **

* This was a specially convened session during which Blue Moon of Kentucky was the only number recorded.

Monroe starts the song in waltz time and then switches to an upbeat 4/4 time, matching Presley’s arrangement. This recording of Blue Moon of Kentucky was paired with that of Close By and released on a single (Decca 29289) on October 4, 1954, and later on the LP My All Time Country Favorites (Decca DL 4327) on October 8, 1962.

Here’s Bill Monroe, Kenny Baker, Butch Robins, Wayne Lewis and Mark Hembree tearing it up in fine style:

** Carl Butler worked for Bill Monroe during the last quarter of 1960.

Butler, who grew up influenced by Roy Acuff and the old time country performers who worked in and around his home town of Knoxville, Tennessee, started singing in dance halls from the age of 12. After service during World War II he played with several bluegrass bands before turning solo and performing on numerous radio shows, including the famous Mid Day Merry Go Round on WNOX.

His first solo recording, Honky Tonkitis, was a modest success, reaching No. 25 on the country music charts.

That was followed by the smash (No. 1) hit Don’t Let Me Cross Over, which he recorded with his wife Pearl. The duo weren’t able to replicate the success of that recording but did have chart success with Loving Arms, Too Late To Try Again, I’m Hanging Up The Phone and We’ll Sweep Out the Ashes in the Morning.

Butler wrote If Teardrops Were Pennies, Crying My Heart Out Over You and White Rose, a song that Bill Monroe recorded on January 12, 1988.

Carl and Pearl Butler went into semi-retirement in the 1970s, although they did do some recordings and make Grand Ole Opry appearances, as they had done since 1962 when they became cast members.

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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.