Full name; "William Smith Monroe", born September the 13th, 1911, passed away, September the 9th, 1996. Monroe's last performance occurred on March 15, 1996. He ended his touring and playing career in April, following a stroke, when he passed, he was in Springfield, Tennessee, only four days before his 85th birthday.
He was an American mandolin player, as well as a singer/songwriter, and was the man who created the style of music that became known as Bluegrass.
The Bluegrass genre, even takes its name from his band, the "Blue Grass Boys", named after Monroe's home state of Kentucky.
His career as a performer spanned an impressive 69 years, where he was a singer, an instrumentalist, a composer and a bandleader.
He is often referred to as the Father of Bluegrass.
He was made an honorary Kentucky Colonel in 1966.
He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1970
He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1971
He was made part of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (as an "early influence") in 1997
Jimmie Rodgers, Bob Wills, Hank Williams Sr., and Johnny Cash are the only other performers honored in all three of these previously mentioned categories.
In 1993, he received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and he was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1995.
In 2003, CMT had Bill Monroe ranked No. 16 on CMT 40 Greatest Men of Country Music
Artists that claimed to be influenced by or to be playing the bluegrass genre were often bullied by Bill Monroe. He always considered himself the father and caretaker of Bluegrass. He would often say of new bands that did not perform to his standards, "That ain't no part of nothin'." Even those who question the scope of Bluegrass refer to Monroe as a "musical giant" and recognise that "there would be no Bluegrass without Bill Monroe."
Over 150 musicians had played in the Blue Grass Boys over Monroe's impressive performing career.
He tended to recruit promising young musicians who served an apprenticeship with him before becoming accomplished artists in their own right.
Some of Monroe's band members who went on to greater prominence include;-
- Clyde Moody
- Lester Flatt
- Jack Cook
- Mac Wiseman
- Jimmy Martin
- Carter Stanley
- Del McCoury
- Peter Rowan
- Roland White
- Roland Dunn
- Doug Green
- Earl Scruggs
- Buck Trent Don Reno
- Sonny Osborne
- Bill Keith
- Tommy Magness
- Chubby Wise
- Vassar Clements
- Byron Berline
- Kenny Baker
- Bobby Hicks
- Gordon Terry
- Glen Duncan
Monroe also regularly performed with flat-picking guitar virtuoso Doc Watson.
Modern bluegrass singer and mandolin player Ricky Skaggs was influenced by Monroe. 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, KY. 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. He was so influential: I think he's probably the only musician that had a whole style of music named after his band".
- 1946 "Kentucky Waltz"
- 1946 "Footprints in the Snow"
- 1948 "Sweetheart, You Done Me Wrong"
- 1949 "Toy Heart"
- 1958 "Wicked Path of Sin"
- 1958 "Little Community Church"
- 1958 "Scotland"
- 1959 "When You Are Lonely"
- 1959 "Gotta Travel On"