I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky #357

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 22, 1947 Single released – Goodbye Old Pal / Blue Moon Of Kentucky (Columbia 20370, 37888, 78rpm)
  • September 22, 1955 Robert Bowlin was born in Pocahontas, Arkansas. *
  • September 22, 1963 Billy Rose was born. **
  • September 22, 1963 Jim Bessire played another date filling in on bass for the Blue Grass Boys, a little over three months after first working for Bill Monroe.

* A multi-instrumentalist, Bowlin was the last fiddler employed by Bill Monroe for the Blue Grass Boys, joining in January 1993 as the replacement for Jimmy Campbell.

He participated in three recording sessions, all of which were on spec productions by Vic Gabany. Only one recording was released; that of Boston Boy, cut on January 9, 1994 and released on the 4 CD set The Music of Bill Monroe from 1936 to 1994 (MCAC/D4-11048).

Bowlin also played fiddle during the sessions for Jimmy Campbell’s Red Clay album Pieces of Time and the Smith brother’s K-Tel album Billy and Terry Smith, Bill Monroe Tribute.

The winner of the 1979 National Guitar Championship, he has created audio lessons in twin guitar and twin mandolin playing for Musicians’ Workshop.

As well as playing with Monroe, Bowlin has worked with the Osborne Brothers and Kathy Mattea and recorded as a sideman with many other bluegrass and country artists.

Currently he plays lead guitar and fiddle with the group Shady Mix.

** Billy Rose played the bass for Bill Monroe from April 1989 through to 1990.

He was involved in several recording sessions, the first of which was on May 5, 1989, one of those that produced tracks for the album Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys Live at the Opry (MCAD-42286), released on March 10, 1998.

Rose played on the MCA sessions for the Cryin’ Holy Unto The Lord album (MCAD-10017).  

In addition he was a member of the Blue Grass Boys featured on the Blue Plate Music Live from the Mountain Stage radio broadcast and he was part of the band that played in Germany in July 1989 – recorded on video by Reinhard Pietsch – and was involved in the filming for the Original Cinema video Bill Monroe, Father of Bluegrass Music.

The material filmed in Germany was included on the Bear Family Records box set Bill Monroe in Germany: Far Across the Blue Water (BCD 16624 EK), released on June 21, 2004.

Equally adept in playing all of the traditional bluegrass instruments, Rose has been in great demand, playing with Melvin Goins, The Reno Tradition, Larry Cordle, The Sidemen and the Cumberland Highlanders, among others. Also, in the past decade or so, he has continued to lend a hand in the recording studio assisting Butch Baldassari, Kenny Baker, Jimmy Campbell, Curly Seckler and the Cumberland Highlanders with recent releases.

Robert Bowlin shares this amusing anecdote that he related to Wil Maring ….

“We were in our Opry dressing room one night when one of the members of the Opry (unnamed) came in to see Bill. Bill proceeded to play an instrumental of which he seemed quite proud and then asked the Opry member, ‘what do you think about that number?’ He stated unexpectedly, ‘Well, Bill, I never liked that tune very much.’ Within a split second, Bill fired back, ‘Well, that tune doesn’t like you either.’ “

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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.