Posted by themusicsover on September 9, 2009
September 13, 1911 – September 9, 1996
Bill Monroe was a bluegrass pioneer who more or less invented the genre whose name itself was derived from the moniker of his own band, the Blue Grass Boys. Born on the family farm in Kentucky, each of Monroe’s parents passed away by the time he was 16, so he spent the next two years living with his fiddle-playing uncle whom he often accompanied on mandolin at local gigs. When he was 18, Monroe formed the Monroe Brothers with his brother Charlie Monroe and two friends. The friends eventually left and the brothers continued as a duo, signing with RCA Victor in 1936. In 1940, Monroe formed the Blue Grass Boys which soon included banjo great, Earl Scruggs and guitarist Lester Flatt. Now on Columbia Records, Monroe recorded a series of songs that would become the foundation of bluegrass music. Those songs included “My Rose Of Old Kentucky” and “Blue Moon Of Kentucky” a cover of which became a signature song for Elvis Presley. By the ’50s, bluegrass suffered from the coming of rock ‘n roll and the Nashville Sound of country music. Things began to turn around thanks to the folk revival of the ’60s when Monroe’s music found an audience with young people who began embracing him as the “father of bluegrass.” Bill Monroe passed away at the age of 84 on September 9, 1996. He was elected into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as an Early Influence the following year.