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.
- December 20, 1922 Goldie Sue Wilene Russell ‘Sally Ann’ Forrester was born in Raton, New Mexico. Wilene Forrester was the first woman to play with the Blue Grass Boys, in a tenure that took place throughout the period of World War II. She played an accordion. *
- December 20, 1939 William Bradford ‘Bill’ Keith was born in Boston, Massachusetts. ‘Brad’, as he was known when he worked for Bill Monroe, presented yet another style of banjo playing – different from that of Earl Scruggs – that had people enraptured. Keith’s melodic style of banjo playing was ideal for playing fiddle tunes note for note. He was a member of the Blue Grass Boys from March 1963 through to just before Christmas of that year. He participated in three recording sessions, the first of which was within a few weeks of Keith joining the Blue Grass Boys. **
* An accordion player, ‘Sally Ann’ Forrester can be heard singing tenor to Bill Monroe on a couple of songs from her only recording session with the Blue Grass Boys, on February 13, 1945. That session produced eight titles – Rocky Road Blues, Kentucky Waltz, True Life Blues, Nobody Loves Me, Goodbye Old Pal, Footprints In the Snow, Blue Grass Special, and Come Back To Me In My Dreams. She sings on the recordings of True Life Blues and Come Back To Me in My Dreams.
Forrester left the Blue Grass Boys in 1946 when Howdy Forrester returned from military service, and husband and wife moved to Texas.
She has been dubbed ‘the First Blue Grass Girl’ by banjo player, teacher and writer Murphy Henry.
** Bill Keith was a member of the Blue Grass Boys from March 1963 through to just before Christmas of that year. He participated in three recording sessions, the first of which was within a few weeks of Keith joining the Blue Grass Boys.
Just like Earl Scruggs, Keith was an innovator who took banjo playing in a different direction when he taught himself to play fiddle tunes on the instrument. Not surprisingly, given Bill Monroe’s love of fiddle tunes and Keith’s prowess with the melodic style, the first recordings that Keith did were instrumentals: Salt Creek, Devil’s Dream and Sailor’s Hornpipe.
Other tunes that he recorded with Bill Monroe included Pike County Breakdown, Shenandoah Breakdown and Santa Claus.
Keith’s banjo playing can be heard on Bill Monroe: July 1963: Two Days at Newport (Bear Family ACD 25001 AA) and Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys: Live at the Mechanic’s Hall (Acoustic Disc ACD-59).
When he left, he was followed by Steve Arkin.