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Bill Monroe


Bill Monroe - The Godfather of Bluegrass

Bill Monroe

courtesy Humble Press




If you like Del McCoury and Earl Scruggs, you'll love Bill Monroe.

Trivia Fact:

After moving to Chicago at the age of 16, Bill Monroe worked as a square dancer on WLS National Barn Dance

Early Days:

Bill Monroe was born in Rosine, Kentucky, in 1911. He started playing mandolin as a small child, and was part of his Uncle Pendleton Vandiver's backup band at local dances. He was orphaned at the age of 16, at which point he moved to Chicago to live with his brothers Birch and Charlie.

Bill Monroe Starts Bluegrass:

After several years of playing with his brothers, Bill formed his own band in 1938. In honor of his home state, he called them "The Blue Grass Boys." By the time the 1940s rolled around, Bill had added lyrics to his Bluegrass tunes, and was revered as the grandfather of Bluegrass. In 1965, Bill was the main act at the first multi-day Bluegrass festival. He also started his own festival in rural Indiana.

Bill Monroe in the Hall of Fame:

In 1970, Bill was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. He won the National Endowment for the Arts' Heritage Award. In 1989, he was awarded the first ever Grammy award for a Bluegrass record, and in 1995, Bill Clinton awarded him with the National Medal of Honor. A year after his death in 1996, Monroe was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Artists Influenced by Bill Monroe:

Many of Bluegrass' best players came from the Blue Grass Boys, including Earl Scruggs and Del McCoury. Newer artists that were clearly influenced by Bill's sound range from Gillian Welch to Railroad Earth and Open Road.

Starter CDs:

Live Recordings: 1956-1969 (Smithsonian Folkways, 1993). The Very Best of Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys (MCA, 2002). Live at Mechanics Hall (Acoustic Disc, 2004). Nine Pound Hammer (Tomato, 2005).

Quote from Bill Monroe:

"Bluegrass is wonderful music. I'm glad I originated it."
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