Bill Monroe

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This article is about the American musician. Bill Monroe_sentence_0

For other people named Bill Monroe, see Bill Monroe (disambiguation). Bill Monroe_sentence_1

Bill Monroe_table_infobox_0

Bill MonroeBill Monroe_header_cell_0_0_0
Background informationBill Monroe_header_cell_0_1_0
Birth nameBill Monroe_header_cell_0_2_0 William Smith MonroeBill Monroe_cell_0_2_1
BornBill Monroe_header_cell_0_3_0 (1911-09-13)September 13, 1911

Rosine, Kentucky, U.S.Bill Monroe_cell_0_3_1

OriginBill Monroe_header_cell_0_4_0 Kentucky, U.S.Bill Monroe_cell_0_4_1
DiedBill Monroe_header_cell_0_5_0 September 9, 1996(1996-09-09) (aged 84)

Springfield, Tennessee, U.S.Bill Monroe_cell_0_5_1

GenresBill Monroe_header_cell_0_6_0 Bill Monroe_cell_0_6_1
InstrumentsBill Monroe_header_cell_0_7_0 Mandolin, guitarBill Monroe_cell_0_7_1
Years activeBill Monroe_header_cell_0_8_0 1927–1996Bill Monroe_cell_0_8_1
LabelsBill Monroe_header_cell_0_9_0 Bill Monroe_cell_0_9_1
Associated actsBill Monroe_header_cell_0_10_0 Bill Monroe_cell_0_10_1

William Smith Monroe (/mənˈroʊ/; September 13, 1911 – September 9, 1996) was an American mandolinist, singer, and songwriter, who created the bluegrass music genre. Bill Monroe_sentence_2

Because of this, he is often called the "Father of Bluegrass". Bill Monroe_sentence_3

The genre takes its name from his band, the Blue Grass Boys, who named their group for the bluegrass of Monroe's home state of Kentucky. Bill Monroe_sentence_4

Monroe's performing career spanned 69 years as a singer, instrumentalist, composer and bandleader. Bill Monroe_sentence_5

Early life Bill Monroe_section_0

Monroe was born on his family's farm near Rosine, Kentucky, the youngest of eight children of James Buchanan "Buck" and Malissa (Vandiver) Monroe. Bill Monroe_sentence_6

His mother and her brother, Pendleton "Pen" Vandiver, were both musically talented, and Monroe and his family grew up playing and singing at home. Bill Monroe_sentence_7

Bill was of Scottish and English heritage. Bill Monroe_sentence_8

Because his older brothers Birch and Charlie already played the fiddle and guitar, Bill was resigned to playing the less desirable mandolin. Bill Monroe_sentence_9

He recalled that his brothers insisted he should remove four of the mandolin's eight strings so he would not play too loudly. Bill Monroe_sentence_10

Monroe's mother died when he was ten, and his father died six years later. Bill Monroe_sentence_11

By and by his brothers and sisters moved away, leaving Monroe to bounce between uncles and aunts until finally settling in with his disabled uncle Pendleton Vandiver, whom he often accompanied when Vandiver played the fiddle at dances. Bill Monroe_sentence_12

This experience inspired one of Monroe's most famous compositions, "Uncle Pen," recorded in 1950, and the 1972 album Bill Monroe's Uncle Pen. Bill Monroe_sentence_13

On that album, Monroe recorded a number of traditional fiddle tunes he had often heard performed by Vandiver. Bill Monroe_sentence_14

Vandiver has been credited with giving Monroe "a repertoire of tunes that sank into Bill's aurally trained memory and a sense of rhythm that seeped into his bones." Bill Monroe_sentence_15

Also significant in Monroe's musical life was Arnold Shultz, an influential fiddler and guitarist who introduced Monroe to the blues. Bill Monroe_sentence_16

Professional career Bill Monroe_section_1

In 1929, Monroe moved to Indiana to work at an oil refinery with his brothers Birch and Charlie, and childhood friend and guitarist William "Old Hickory" Hardin. Bill Monroe_sentence_17

Together with a friend Larry Moore, they formed the "Monroe Brothers", to play at local dances and house parties. Bill Monroe_sentence_18

Birch and Moore soon left the group, and Bill and Charlie carried on as a duo, eventually winning spots performing live on radio stations, first in Indiana and then, sponsored by Texas Crystals, on several radio broadcasts in Shenandoah Iowa, Nebraska, South Carolina and North Carolina from 1934 to 1936. Bill Monroe_sentence_19

RCA Victor signed the Monroe Brothers to a recording contract in 1936. Bill Monroe_sentence_20

They scored an immediate hit single with the gospel song "What Would You Give in Exchange For Your Soul?" Bill Monroe_sentence_21

and ultimately recorded 60 tracks for Victor's Bluebird label between 1936 and 1938. Bill Monroe_sentence_22

After the Monroe Brothers disbanded in 1938, Bill Monroe formed The Kentuckians in Little Rock, Arkansas, but the group only lasted for three months. Bill Monroe_sentence_23

Monroe then left Little Rock for Atlanta, Georgia, to form the first edition of the Blue Grass Boys with singer/guitarist Cleo Davis, fiddler Art Wooten, and bassist Amos Garren. Bill Monroe_sentence_24

Bill had wanted William Hardin to become one of the original members of his Blue Grass Boys, however he had to decline. Bill Monroe_sentence_25

In October 1939, Monroe successfully auditioned for a regular spot on the Grand Ole Opry, impressing Opry founder George D. Hay with his energetic performance of Jimmie Rodgers's "Mule Skinner Blues". Bill Monroe_sentence_26

Monroe recorded that song, along with seven others, at his first solo recording session for RCA Victor in 1940; by this time, the Blue Grass Boys consisted of singer/guitarist Clyde Moody, fiddler Tommy Magness, and bassist Bill Wesbrooks. Bill Monroe_sentence_27

While the fast tempos and instrumental virtuosity characteristic of bluegrass music are apparent even on these early tracks, Monroe was still experimenting with the sound of his group. Bill Monroe_sentence_28

He seldom sang lead vocals on his Victor recordings, often preferring to contribute high tenor harmonies as he had in the Monroe Brothers. Bill Monroe_sentence_29

A 1945 session for Columbia Records featured an accordion, soon dropped from the band. Bill Monroe_sentence_30

Most importantly, Monroe added banjo player David "'Stringbean" Akeman to the Blue Grass Boys in 1942. Bill Monroe_sentence_31

Akeman played the instrument in a relatively primitive style and was rarely featured in instrumental solos. Bill Monroe_sentence_32

Monroe's pre-1946 recordings represent a transitional style between the string-band tradition from which he came and the musical innovation to follow. Bill Monroe_sentence_33

"Original Bluegrass Band" and Monroe's heyday as a star Bill Monroe_section_2

Key developments occurred in Monroe's music with the addition of Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs to the Blue Grass Boys in December 1945. Bill Monroe_sentence_34

Flatt played a solid rhythm guitar style that would help to set the course for bluegrass timing. Bill Monroe_sentence_35

Scruggs played the banjo with a distinctive three-finger picking style that immediately caused a sensation among Opry audiences. Bill Monroe_sentence_36

Flatt and Scruggs joined a highly accomplished group that included fiddler Howdy Forrester and bassist Joe Forrester and would soon include fiddler Chubby Wise and bassist Howard Watts, who often performed under the name "Cedric Rainwater". Bill Monroe_sentence_37

In retrospect, this lineup of the Blue Grass Boys has been dubbed the "Original Bluegrass Band", as the music finally included all the elements that characterize bluegrass music, including breakneck tempos, sophisticated vocal harmony arrangements, and impressive instrumental proficiency demonstrated in solos or "breaks" on the mandolin, banjo, and fiddle. Bill Monroe_sentence_38

By this time, Monroe had acquired the 1923 Gibson F5 model "Lloyd Loar" mandolin, which became his trademark instrument for the remainder of his career. Bill Monroe_sentence_39

The 28 songs recorded by this version of the Blue Grass Boys for Columbia Records in 1946 and 1947 soon became classics of the genre, including "Toy Heart", "Blue Grass Breakdown", "Molly and Tenbrooks", "Wicked Path of Sin", "My Rose of Old Kentucky", "Little Cabin Home on the Hill", and Monroe's most famous song "Blue Moon of Kentucky". Bill Monroe_sentence_40

The last-named was recorded by Elvis Presley in 1954, appearing as the B-side of his first single for Sun Records. Bill Monroe_sentence_41

Monroe gave his blessing to Presley's rock and roll cover of the song, originally a slow ballad in waltz time, and in fact re-recorded it himself with a faster arrangement after Presley's version became a hit. Bill Monroe_sentence_42

Several gospel-themed numbers are credited to the "Blue Grass Quartet", which featured four-part vocal arrangements accompanied solely by mandolin and guitar – Monroe's usual practice when performing "sacred" songs. Bill Monroe_sentence_43

Both Flatt and Scruggs left Monroe's band in early 1948, soon forming their own group, the Foggy Mountain Boys. Bill Monroe_sentence_44

In 1949, after signing with Decca Records, Monroe entered what has been called the "golden age" of his career with what many consider the classic "high lonesome" version of the Blue Grass Boys, featuring the lead vocals and rhythm guitar of Jimmy Martin, the banjo of Rudy Lyle (replacing Don Reno), and fiddlers such as Merle "Red" Taylor, Charlie Cline, Bobby Hicks, William Hicks and Vassar Clements. Bill Monroe_sentence_45

This band recorded a number of bluegrass classics, including "My Little Georgia Rose", "On and On", "Memories of Mother and Dad", and "Uncle Pen", as well as instrumentals such as "Roanoke", "Big Mon", "Stoney Lonesome", "Get Up John", and the mandolin feature "Raw Hide". Bill Monroe_sentence_46

Carter Stanley joined the Blue Grass Boys as guitarist for a short time in 1951 during a period when The Stanley Brothers had temporarily disbanded. Bill Monroe_sentence_47

On January 16, 1953 Monroe was critically injured in a two-car wreck. Bill Monroe_sentence_48

He and "Bluegrass Boys" bass player, Bessie Lee Mauldin, were returning home from a fox hunt north of Nashville. Bill Monroe_sentence_49

On highway 31-W, near White House, their car was struck by a drunken driver. Bill Monroe_sentence_50

Monroe, who had suffered injuries to his back, left arm and nose, was rushed to General Hospital in Nashville. Bill Monroe_sentence_51

It took him almost four months to recover and resume touring. Bill Monroe_sentence_52

In the meantime Charlie Cline and Jimmy Martin kept the band together. Bill Monroe_sentence_53

By the late 1950s, however, Monroe's commercial fortunes had begun to slip. Bill Monroe_sentence_54

The rise of rock-and-roll and the development of the "Nashville sound" in mainstream country music both represented threats to the viability of bluegrass. Bill Monroe_sentence_55

While still a mainstay on the Grand Ole Opry, Monroe found diminishing success on the singles charts, and struggled to keep his band together in the face of declining demand for live performances. Bill Monroe_sentence_56

Folk revival Bill Monroe_section_3

Later years Bill Monroe_section_4

Even after the folk revival faded in the mid-1960s, it left a loyal audience for bluegrass music. Bill Monroe_sentence_57

Bluegrass festivals became common, with fans often traveling long distances to see a number of different acts over several days of performances. Bill Monroe_sentence_58

In 1967 Monroe himself founded an annual bluegrass festival at Bean Blossom in southern Indiana, a park he had purchased in 1951, which routinely attracted a crowd of thousands; a double LP from the festival featuring Monroe, Jimmy Martin, Lester Flatt, and Jim and Jesse was released in 1973. Bill Monroe_sentence_59

The annual Bill Monroe Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival is now the world's oldest continuously running annual bluegrass festival. Bill Monroe_sentence_60

Monroe's compositions during his later period were largely instrumentals, including "Jerusalem Ridge", "Old Dangerfield" (originally spelled Daingerfield after the town in East Texas), and "My Last Days on Earth"; he settled into a new role as a musical patriarch who continued to influence younger generations of musicians. Bill Monroe_sentence_61

Monroe recorded two albums of duets in the 1980s; the first featured collaborations with country stars such as Emmylou Harris, Waylon Jennings, and The Oak Ridge Boys, while the second paired him with other prominent bluegrass musicians. Bill Monroe_sentence_62

A 1989 live album celebrated his 50th year on the Grand Ole Opry. Bill Monroe_sentence_63

Monroe also kept a hectic touring schedule. Bill Monroe_sentence_64

On April 7, 1990, Monroe performed for Farm Aid IV in Indianapolis, Indiana along with Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Neil Young and with many other artists. Bill Monroe_sentence_65

Death Bill Monroe_section_5

Monroe's last performance occurred on March 15, 1996. Bill Monroe_sentence_66

He ended his touring and playing career in April, following a stroke. Bill Monroe_sentence_67

Monroe died on September 9, 1996, in Springfield, Tennessee, four days before his 85th birthday. Bill Monroe_sentence_68

Legacy and influence Bill Monroe_section_6

Bill Monroe was made an honorary Kentucky Colonel in 1966. Bill Monroe_sentence_69

He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1970, the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1971, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (as an "early influence") in 1997. Bill Monroe_sentence_70

Jimmie Rodgers, Bob Wills, Hank Williams Sr., and Johnny Cash are the only other performers honored in all three. Bill Monroe_sentence_71

As the "father of bluegrass", he was also an inaugural inductee into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor in 1991. Bill Monroe_sentence_72

Monroe was a recipient of a 1982 National Heritage Fellowship awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts, which is the United States government's highest honor in the folk and traditional arts. Bill Monroe_sentence_73

That year's fellowships were the first bestowed by the NEA. Bill Monroe_sentence_74

In 1993, he received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and he was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1995. Bill Monroe_sentence_75

His well-known song "Blue Moon of Kentucky" has been covered not only by bluegrass but also rock and country artists, most notably Elvis Presley, Paul McCartney, and Patsy Cline. Bill Monroe_sentence_76

In 2003, CMT had Bill Monroe ranked No. Bill Monroe_sentence_77

16 on CMT 40 Greatest Men of Country Music. Bill Monroe_sentence_78

Artists that claimed to be influenced by or to be playing the bluegrass genre were often bullied by Bill Monroe. Bill Monroe_sentence_79

He always considered himself the father and caretaker of bluegrass. Bill Monroe_sentence_80

He would often say of new bands that did not perform to his standards, "That ain't no part of nothin'." Bill Monroe_sentence_81

Even those who question the scope of bluegrass refer to Monroe as a "musical giant" and recognize that "there would be no bluegrass without Bill Monroe." Bill Monroe_sentence_82

More than 150 musicians played in the Blue Grass Boys over the nearly 60 years of Monroe's performing career. Bill Monroe_sentence_83

Monroe tended to recruit promising young musicians who served an apprenticeship with him before becoming accomplished artists in their own right. Bill Monroe_sentence_84

Some of Monroe's band members who went on to greater prominence include singer/guitarists Clyde Moody, Lester Flatt, Jack Cook, Mac Wiseman, Jimmy Martin, Carter Stanley, Del McCoury, Peter Rowan, Roland White, Roland Dunn and Doug Green; banjo players Earl Scruggs, Buck Trent, Don Reno, Stringbean, Sonny Osborne, and Bill Keith; and fiddlers Tommy Magness, Chubby Wise, Vassar Clements, Byron Berline, Kenny Baker, Bobby Hicks, Gordon Terry, Randall Franks and Glen Duncan. Bill Monroe_sentence_85

Monroe also regularly performed with flat-picking guitar virtuoso Doc Watson. Bill Monroe_sentence_86

Modern bluegrass singer and mandolin player Ricky Skaggs was influenced by Monroe. Bill Monroe_sentence_87

Skaggs was only six years old, in 1960, when he first got to perform on stage with Monroe and his band at the high school in Martha, Kentucky. Bill Monroe_sentence_88

He stated, "I think Bill Monroe's importance to American music is as important as someone like Robert Johnson was to blues, or Louis Armstrong. Bill Monroe_sentence_89

He was so influential: I think he's probably the only musician that had a whole style of music named after his band." Bill Monroe_sentence_90

In 1999, the portion of Indiana State Road 135 running from Morgantown through to Nashville, Indiana was dedicated to Bill Monroe and is known as the Bill Monroe Memorial Highway. Bill Monroe_sentence_91

On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Bill Monroe among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal Studios fire. Bill Monroe_sentence_92

Discography Bill Monroe_section_7

Main article: Bill Monroe discography Bill Monroe_sentence_93

Bill Monroe_table_general_1

YearBill Monroe_header_cell_1_0_0 SingleBill Monroe_header_cell_1_0_1 Chart PositionsBill Monroe_header_cell_1_0_2
U.S. CountryBill Monroe_header_cell_1_1_0
1946Bill Monroe_cell_1_2_0 "Kentucky Waltz"Bill Monroe_cell_1_2_1 3Bill Monroe_cell_1_2_2
"Footprints in the Snow"Bill Monroe_cell_1_3_0 5Bill Monroe_cell_1_3_1
1948Bill Monroe_cell_1_4_0 "Sweetheart, You Done Me Wrong"Bill Monroe_cell_1_4_1 11Bill Monroe_cell_1_4_2
"Wicked Path of Sin"Bill Monroe_cell_1_5_0 13Bill Monroe_cell_1_5_1
"Little Community Church"Bill Monroe_cell_1_6_0 11Bill Monroe_cell_1_6_1
1949Bill Monroe_cell_1_7_0 "Toy Heart"Bill Monroe_cell_1_7_1 12Bill Monroe_cell_1_7_2
"When You Are Lonely"Bill Monroe_cell_1_8_0 12Bill Monroe_cell_1_8_1
1958Bill Monroe_cell_1_9_0 "Scotland"Bill Monroe_cell_1_9_1 27Bill Monroe_cell_1_9_2
1959Bill Monroe_cell_1_10_0 "Gotta Travel On"Bill Monroe_cell_1_10_1 15Bill Monroe_cell_1_10_2

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: Monroe.