A Sad Day...
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Mon, 9 Sep 96 18:06:26 -0700
Subject: A Sad Day...
If you've been feeling like you're under a cloud today, or like somebody
important is gone, maybe this is why...
From: the Associated Press via USA Today web page <http://www.usatoday.com/>
09/09/96 - 05:48 PM ET
Bill Monroe, Father of Bluegrass music, dead at 84
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Bill Monroe, who combined fast-picking mandolin, banjo
and guitar with a "high lonesome" singing style to create the distinctly
American sound known as bluegrass, died Monday. He was 84.
The Father of Bluegrass died at a hospice in Springfield after suffering a
stroke earlier this year.
Monroe influenced bluegrass legends like Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, as
well as newer stars, such as Ricky Skaggs and Alison Krauss.
Monroe's best known song was Blue Moon of Kentucky, which he wrote in 1946
and which Elvis Presley also recorded in 1954 on his way to stardom. Other
records included Kentucky Waltz, Mule Skinner Blues, Pike County Breakdown
and A Letter From My Darling.
As a singer, songwriter and instrumentalist, Monroe was a headliner around
the world and was honored at the White House. He sold more than 50 million
records and remained active well into his 80s.
Bluegrass music relies heavily on banjos, mandolins, acoustic guitars and
fiddles, with lightning-fast picking and a yodeling vocal style. It gets its
name from Monroe's band, the Blue Grass Boys, and the grass of his native
Monroe could play most of the string instruments but was best known as a
mandolinist. While performing, he nearly always wore a coat and tie, with a
white cowboy hat crowning his silver hair.
In the 1940s, he hired Flatt and Scruggs for his band - Flatt on guitar,
Scruggs on banjo - and they became two of the most acclaimed musicians in
bluegrass history. Monroe, a proud man, was said to have refused to speak to
the pair for more than 20 years after they left him in the late '40s.
Monroe was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1970. He played on
the Grand Ole Opry from 1939 throughout his career. He won the National Medal
of the Arts in 1995.
Monroe was born near Rosine, Ky., the youngest of eight children. He learned
to play after he was orphaned at 11 and taken in by his uncle Pendleton
Vandiver, a talented fiddler. In tribute, Monroe wrote one of his biggest
hits, "Uncle Pen," and founded an annual bluegrass gathering known as the
Hall of Fame and Uncle Pen Day Festival.
Starting in the late '20s, he performed for several years with his brothers
Birch and Charlie. In a duo with Charlie, Monroe had an early hit in 1936
with What Would You Give (In Exchange for Your Soul). After the two split in
1938, Charlie went on to form his own successful band, the Kentucky Pardners.
The Blue Grass Boys have been band since he became nationally known more
than 50 years ago.
"Bluegrass has brought more people together and made more friends than any
music in the world," Monroe said in 1978. "You meet people at festivals and
renew acquaintances year after year."
Survivors include one son, James, and one grandson.
Funeral arrangements were incomplete.
By The Associated Press
© 1996 Peter Langston