I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky #93

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.

  • January 1, 1968 Single released – Is The Blue Moon Still Shining? / Train 45 (Heading South) (Decca 32245, 45rpm) *
  • January 1, 1995 CD released – Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys – Bluegrass ’87 (Universal Special Products 31310) **
  • January 1, 2009 Walter Haynes passed away in Tyler, Texas. He was aged 80.   ***

* Both sides were cut on November 9, 1967.

** Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys – Bluegrass ’87 consists of 10 tracks and each was produced by Emory Gordy Jr.

Track listing – The Long Bow, Mighty Dark to Travel, Music Valley Waltz, Jekyll Island, The Old Crossroads, The Old Brown County Barn, Stay Away from Me, Bluest Man in Town, Angels Rock Me to Sleep and Dancin’ in Brancin’ (the correct title is Dancin’ in Branson)

One reviewer commented …..

The newfangled bluegrass music of recent years has never won me over; what I love is real, old-timey bluegrass, especially the music of Bill Monroe, the veritable Father of Bluegrass. This 1987 offering from Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys is good, but I found it somewhat disappointing as well. Bill Monroe was not a young man anymore, and he took something of a backseat here to the talented performers playing alongside him. In fact, he only sang lead vocals on two songs: Music Valley Waltz and Stay Away From Me. His voice lacked the power it once had, but he was still hitting those high notes in that wonderfully unique way of his; these two songs are excellent. I can also pick up Monroe’s voice among the backup vocals on Angels, Rock Me to Sleep, a semi-gospel tune featuring great vocalization. Mighty Dark to Travel is an old standard, and while the leader singer here does a great job, “he ain’t no Bill Monroe.” The Old Crossroads and Bluest Man in Town are also good songs featuring someone other than Monroe on vocals. Four of the ten songs are instrumentals only (although “instrumental” really just doesn’t sound like the best way of describing a bluegrass song without vocals); I like a little jamboree of pickin’ and pluckin’ as much as the next guy, but I much prefer my bluegrass tunes to come with someone twangin’ out words. Those unfamiliar with Bill Monroe’s legendary music would do well to begin their bluegrass odyssey with some of his classic recordings, but Monroe fans will find much to enjoy in this 1987 release.

*** Walter Haynes was a premier steel guitar player, displaying his pedal steel artistry on myriad Nashville classics, a producer and a song writer. However, he first earned attention in Nashville, where settled in 1949, for his prowess as a fiddle player.

He toured and recorded with Little Jimmy Dickens, Skeets McDonald, Jean Shepard, Webb Pierce and Patsy Cline, featuring on their many country music hits.

Mentored by Owen Bradley, Haynes replaced him as a producer at Decca Records in 1969.

As well as supervising 40 sessions for Bill Monroe, he produced Jeannie Pruett’s Satin Sheets and Cal Smith’s Country Bumpkin, both big hits in the early 1970s.

On occasion Haynes tried his hand at song writing, most-notably co-writing Del Reeves’ 1965 number one single Girl on the Billboard.??After three years as vice president of MCA Nashville, he retired in 1981, but continued teaching music until just prior to his death.

He is a recipient of the Country Music Association Producer of the Year Award and was inducted into the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame in 2003.

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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.