I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky #37

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.

  • November 6. 1942 Peter Esmond Bernard ’Pete’ Sayers born Bath, Somerset, England. Sayers played on the Grand Ole Opry many times between 1966 and 1972 and during that time played banjo for Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys. *
  • November 6, 1948 Wicked Path of Sin (Columbia 20503) peaked at number 13 in the Billboard country music single chart.
  • November 6, 1979 Bill Monroe was presented with an honorary associate degree by South Plains College, Levelland, Texas, during the Bluegrass Spectacular on stage at the Grand Ole Opry House, Nashville, Tennessee.  A television recording of the event was broadcast on December 1. It was a television first.
  • November 6, 2000 CD released – American Traveler (County CCS-119-CD) **
  • November 6, 2003 James Gar Bowers died. He was aged 76.  ***

* A singer, songwriter and comedian, Sayers was equally adept playing the guitar, banjo, Dobro ®, autoharp and ukulele. As a teenager he formed the Bluegrass Cut-Ups, possibly the UK’s first bluegrass band. By 1966 Sayers was established as the host of his own country music series on Tyne-Tees Television (in north-east England).

Later that same year he went to Nashville for a holiday and ended up remaining there for the next five years. There Sayers found employment as a warm-up artist on the Grand Ole Opry radio show. Sayers worked for the Opry for three years and often performed on the show itself. He also hosted a US breakfast TV programme and worked on tour with Kitty Wells and Flatt and Scruggs.

In 1972 Sayers began the Newmarket-based Grand Ole Opry (England). The show became very popular and was on the touring schedule for visiting Americans, including Bill Monroe.

** American Traveler (County CCS-119-CD)  American Traveler is a concept album with a difference. It groups together 16 instrumentals – some of Monroe’s  lesser known as well as some of his best known tunes. Each is named after states, cities, rivers etc that he visited in his travels over a career that spanned more than 60 years, and that is the theme of this record. They demonstrate his genius as a composer of wonderful tunes, as an arranger, and as a mandolin player par excellence. Tunes such as Roanoke, Cheyenne, Brown County Breakdown, Tallahassee and Big Sandy River also feature fiddlers Kenny Baker, Bobby Hicks, Vassar Clements and Buddy Spicher along with banjo pickers Bill Keith, Bobby Thompson, Vic Jordan and Bob Black, among others.

Track listing – Roanoke, Panhandle Country, Cheyenne, Brown County Breakdown, Pike County Breakdown, Big Ball In Brooklyn, Big Sandy River, Crossing The Cumberlands, Louisville Breakdown, Salt Creek, Tallahassee, Texas Gallop, Going Up Caney, Shenandoah Breakdown, Kentucky Mandolin and Ashland Breakdown.

*** Bowers worked for Bill Monroe during 1951 and played banjo at the session that produced the recordings of Christmas Time’s A-Comin’ and The First Whippoorwill (October 28, 1951).

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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.