On This Day #57 – Ricky Skaggs’ Country Boy

On this day  ..

On January 9, 1994, Ricky Skaggs’ Epic single Country Boy (Epic 34-04831) was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). 

The recording was done in June 1994 and features such bluegrass music luminaries as Bobby Hicks (fiddle) and Lou Reid (vocals and banjo).

It was released in February 1985 as the second single and title track from the album Country Boy. The recording was Skaggs’ ninth #1 hit on the Billboard Country chart. The single was at #1 for just one week, and spent a total of 13 weeks on the Country chart.

The music video for Country Boy was filmed in a wintery New York City and features Bill Monroe who, playing the part of Uncle Pen, visits Skaggs in his New York City office, upset that Skaggs had perceivably shed his country ways. Skaggs leads Monroe, constantly clutching his mandolin but for a brief demonstration of his own dancing skills, through New York City’s streets and subways, showing through song and dance that he’s still a “country boy at heart”, as the last line of the chorus goes. 

The video was one of four nominees for the first Music Video of the Year honor presented by the 19th Country Music Association Awards in October 1985. It lost out to All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight by Hank Williams, Jr. Perhaps Monroe would have said, “that ain’t no part of nothing.”

Monroe played mandolin on Skaggs’ recording of Wheel Hoss, the ‘B’-side to the Country Boy single. 

The recording of Wheel Hoss was awarded a Grammy for the Best Country Instrumental Performance of 1984 by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) at the 27th Annual Grammy Awards show in February 1985. 

Skaggs gave his Grammy award to Monroe, saying in his autobiography, Kentucky Traveler: My Life in Music, “I gave my Grammy to Mr Monroe because he hadn’t yet won a Grammy, and I thought he deserved one.”

The first Grammy award recognizing the bluegrass music genre specifically was made in 1989 for Best Bluegrass Album; the winner was Bill Monroe’s Southern Flavor LP (MCA Records).

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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.