I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky #86

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 25, 1944 Emory Lee Gordy Jnr. was born in Atlanta, Georgia. *
  • December 25, 1948 Single released – Katy Hill / Back up and Push (RCA Victor 20 – 3295, 78rpm)
  • December 25, 1970 R C Harris played his first show with Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys. (see February 20 and May 31) **
  • December 25, 1975 Wayne Lewis (guitar) joined the Blue Grass Boys. He worked for Bill Monroe for a little over 10 years, the longest tenure of any of Monroe’s lead vocalists. ***

* Emory Gordy was the producer for 16 MCA sessions from May 1985 through to January 1988. During five of those he played bass, starting with the evening session on May 7, 1985.

Material recorded during that period was released on the following albums; Bill Monroe and Stars of the Bluegrass Hall of Fame (MCA 5625), the Grammy(R) award winning Bluegrass ’87 (MCA 5970) and Southern Flavor (MCA 52133).

Other highlights in his career include touring and recording with Elvis Presley, a brief spell as a member of Emmylou Harris’ Hot Band, working as a session musician and independent record producer for such artists as Vince Gill and George Jones.

Gordy won the CMA Album of the Year award in 1995 for Fallen Angels with his wife Patty Loveless and produced her albums Mountain Soul, Mountain Soul II and Bluegrass and White Snow: A Mountain Christmas.

** R C Harris was the regular banjo player from Christmas 1970 through to the end of May 1971. He re-joined for an even shorter spell between June and August 1981.

He did not participate in any recording sessions.

*** Wayne Lewis made his full-time professional music debut in 1974 with Ralph Stanley before moving on to play with Lillimae and the Dixie Gospelaires.

He joined the Blue Grass Boys as guitarist and lead singer in May 1976 and remained with them for ten years. Despite his long tenure with the band, Lewis was relatively under-recorded as a singer since Bill Monroe recorded three albums featuring guest vocalists and one instrumental album during that time.

Nevertheless, Lewis participated in two dozen sessions and sings lead on the recordings of the ever-popular My Sweet Blue-Eyed Darling, My Florida Sunshine, The Little Girl And the Dreadful Snake, Little Cabin Home On The Hill, Let the Gates Swing Wide and Angels Rock Me To Sleep from the decade that he worked for Bill Monroe.

He now provides lead vocals and guitar for The Wayne Lewis Band and for The Cumberland Highlanders.

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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.