I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky #84

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 23, 1950 Single released – When the Golden Leaves Begin to Fall / Uncle Pen (Decca 9 – 46283, 78rpm).
  • December 23, 1958 Tommy Vaden filled in, playing bass, with the Blue Grass Boys.  *
  • December 23, 1982 Recording session – In another session for the Bill Monroe and Friends album (MCA-5435), Bill Monroe and Ricky Skaggs recorded My Sweet Blue-Eyed Darling. Skaggs played a guitar break as well as singing lead. Also participating in the session were Wayne Lewis [guitar], Dale Sellers [guitar], Blake Williams [banjo], Mark Hembree [bass], and Kenny Baker and Buddy Spicher [fiddle]. The producer was Walter Haynes.
  • December 23, 1995 Benny Sims died in Johnson City, Tennessee. **

* A long-time member of Hank Snow’s band, fiddle player Tommy Vaden played bass for Bill Monroe on four consecutive days, beginning December 23, 1958.

** Benny Sims is best remembered for his time, from 1949 to 1950, with Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys.

Sims played the fiddle on the first recordings of such classics as Pike County Breakdown, Little Girl in Tennessee and Foggy Mountain Breakdown and it was his singing that helped make Old Salty Dog Blues as the classic that it is today.

Prior to that, in the late 1940s, he played with Jack & Curly Shelton while they were working at Asheville’s Radio WWNC.

Sims left Flatt & Scruggs to become a staff musician on the WNOX Mid-Day Merry-Go-Round and Tennessee Barn Dance in Knoxville, Tennessee.

In 1954 he joined the BonnyLou and Buster Moore program on WJHL-TV in Johnson City, Tennessee, and stayed with them for almost nine years.

Sims retired from music in the 1960s and went on to become an insurance salesman in the Johnson City-area as well as a formidable fiddle teacher – Hunter Berry was one of his students – and producer of several instructional books for Joe Morrell Music Distributors.

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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.