I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky #353

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 18, 1931 Enoch Hugh Sullivan was born in St Stephens, Alabama, and remained a lifelong resident.  *
  • September 18, 1939 Robert ‘Bob’ Fowler was born. **
  • September 18, 1953 Carl Jackson was born in Louisville, Mississippi. ***
  • September 18, 1970 Bill Monroe presented his first Kentucky Bluegrass Festival at Rockdale Park, Shopes Creek, near Ashland, Kentucky.
  • September 18, 1973 Ben Pedigo joined the Blue Grass Boys.  ****
  • September 18, 1976 Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys made a personal appearance at the two-day Carowinds Bluegrass Festival at Carowinds, between Charlotte and Rock Hill, South Carolina.
  • September 18, 2005 ‘Bea’ Lilly died in his sleep at the Duxbury House Alzheimer Care Center near Plymouth, Massachusetts.  *****

* Enoch Sullivan had an unconfirmed role as a fill-in, playing fiddle during 1963.

Sullivan is best known as the patriarch in the Sullivan Family Gospel band, dubbed “the first family of bluegrass gospel music” by Bill Monroe, for whom they were a great favourite.

With his wife Margie, the Sullivans played and sang throughout the States for 50 years. They toured internationally and were frequent performers at the Grand Ole Opry.

They recorded over 30 albums.

A member of the IBMA Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame, Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame, and the Alabama Country Music Hall of Fame, Sullivan was also a recipient of the Heritage Award of the Arts Council of Alabama.

** Bob Fowler played guitar for Bill Monroe during 1973.

He was a member of the Blue Grass Boys at Bean Blossom during the recording, which took place on June 16 and June 17, 1973, for the Bean Blossom LP (MCA 2-8002), released on November 1, 1973.

Fowler and his wife Ingrid had a band in San Francisco and was the first or one of the first bands to play at Paul’s Saloon in San Francisco, the hub for bluegrass music in the 1970s and 1980s.

*** Carl Jackson, with Jim & Jesse at the time, played banjo on the recording of Orange Blossom Special for the Bean Blossom LP (MCA 2-8002), recorded on June 16, 1973.

Jackson came to the fore as a feature artist on the Glen Campbell TV Show.

Prior to that, he spent 5 years with Jim & Jesse & the Virginia Boys, before joining The Sullivan Family for a short time as a guitarist.

Then Jackson moved to Columbus, Ohio, to form The Country Store with Jimmy Gaudreau, Bill Rawlins, and the late Keith Whitley. Within a week he joined Glen Campbell’s band.

While with Campbell he worked on his vocal and song writing abilities, in addition to his instrumental work. That led to him recording two LPs for Capitol, three well received albums for Sugar Hill Records and, in 1984, a dabble with country music in the form of two Top 40 recordings.

Striking out on his own, Jackson worked with a long list of top country music acts and wrote many songs recorded by bluegrass bands like Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Ricky Skaggs, The Whites, lllrd Tyme Out, The Rarely Herd, Alecia Nugent, Continental Divide, The Country Gentlemen, Mark Newton, Bradley Walker and Jim & Jesse.

As well as song writing and recording Jackson has considerable experience in production work with Bradley Walker (2007 IBMA Male Vocalist of the Year) and Alecia Nugent are two to benefit from his guiding hand in the studio.

He produced three tribute albums; one for Gram Parson, another for the Louvin Brothers and one focusing on the works of Mark Twain.

Jackson is a multiple Grammy award winner.

**** Pedigo‘s first show was at the Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

***** ‘Bea’ Lilly was one half of the famed Lilly Brothers band that was such an attraction in the Boston area from the early 1950s onwards.

It was during one show in which the brothers shared the billing with Bill Monroe that Bea Lilly joined Monroe onstage for a Monroe Brothers’ style duet.

Their Boston tenure also often featured fiddler Tex Logan and banjo player Don Stover; they worked at WCOP Boston on the Hayloft Jamboree and then at various clubs, mostly notably a long stint at the Hillbilly Ranch.

They recorded for Event Records in 1956 and 1957 (later released on County) and albums for Folkways and Prestige International.

An album of live recordings from 1960, released in Japan, was some of the first bluegrass to be sold in that country.

With the exception of a few briefs breaks, the Lilly Brothers and Stover worked constantly in the Boston area from 1952 until January 1970. They would re-unite sporadically for shows until Don Stover’s death in 1996.

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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.