William Smith Monroe (a.k.a. Bill Monroe)
Bluegrass music has attracted a diverse following worldwide. Bluegrass pioneer Bill Monroe characterized the bluegrass genre as: “Scottish bagpipes and ole-time fiddlin.’ It’s Methodist and Holiness and Baptist. It’s blues and jazz, and it has a high lonesome sound.”
- 1911 William Smith Monroe (a.k.a. Bill Monroe) is born in Rosine, Kentucky.
- 1934 Bill and Charlie Monroe form the Monroe Brothers, a duet act that plays around the Midwest and Carolinas.
- 1936 The Monroe Brothers make their first recordings for the Bluebird label, an RCA subsidiary.
- 1938 After the Monroe Brothers part ways Bill Monroe forms his own band.
- 1939 Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys make their first appearance on the Grand Ol’ Opry.
- 1945 Lester Flatt (guitar) and Earl Scruggs (banjo) join Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys. After a three-year stint they leave in 1948 to form their own group, the Foggy Mountain Boys.
- 1951 Bill Monroe sets up a “country park” in Bean Blossom, Indiana, which becomes the site of bluegrass festivals.
- 1963 Bill Monroe performs at the Newport Folk Festival, bringing his music to a younger audience.
- 1970 Bill Monroe is elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.
- 1985 The album Bill Monroe and Friends—featuring folk and country stars like Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and Emmylou Harris—is released.
- 1991 Cryin’ Holy Unto the Lord, a gospel album by Bill Monroe, is released on MCA the same year the bluegrass icon turns 80.
- 1993 Bill Monroe receives a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences at the Grammy Awards.
- 1995 Bill Monroe receives the National Medal of the Arts from President Bill Clinton.
- 1996 Four days shy of his 85th birthday, Bill Monroe dies in Springfield, Tennessee.
- 1997 Bill Monroe is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the twelfth annual induction dinner.