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December 29

Bill Monroe and His Most Successful Release: “Kentucky Waltz”

The great name behind the song “Kentucky Waltz” is Bill Monroe. In the year 1946, Monroe wrote and performed “Kentucky Waltz”. The said track was Bill Monroe’s most successful release on the Country & Western charts peaking at number three.

In the year 1951, Eddy Arnold made his own cover of “Kentucky Waltz”. His version occupied the top spot on the Country & Western Best Seller charts.

The other singer that sang the same track was Rosemary Clooney. Clooney’s version made the Cashbox pop chart.

Bill Monroe’s Background

Bill Monroe was made an honorary Kentucky Colonel in 1966. He was an inductee into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1970. A year later, he became part of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Lastly, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame considered him as an “early influence” in 1997. Apart from Bill, Jimmie Rodgers, Bob Wills, Hank Williams Sr., and Johnny Cash are the only other performers honored in all three. Considered as the “father of bluegrass”, he was also an inaugural inductee into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor in 1991. Two years after, he received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1995, the National Medal of Arts medal was given to him.

“Blue Moon of Kentucky”, his ever famous hit, has been covered not only by bluegrass but also rock and country artists. Among the notable artists were Elvis Presley, Paul McCartney, and Patsy Cline. The year 2003, CMT had Bill Monroe ranked No. 16 on CMT 40 Greatest Men of Country Music.

Bill Monroe as the “Father of Bluegrass”

Being the “father and caretaker of bluegrass”, Bill Monroe often bullied artists that claimed to be influenced by or to be playing the bluegrass genre.

He would often say, “That ain’t no part of nothin’” to bands that did not perform to his standards.

Even those who question the scope of bluegrass refer to Monroe as a “musical giant”. Moreover, they recognize that without Bill Monroe, there would be no bluegrass.

Another name influenced by Monroe is Ricky Skaggs—a modern bluegrass singer and mandolin player. At a very young age of six, Skaggs first got to perform on stage with Monroe and his band. This happened in 1960 at the high school in Martha, Kentucky. He stated that Bill Monroe’s importance to American music is as important as someone like Robert Johnson was to blues. He also added that Monroe was so influential that he had a whole style of music named after his band.


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bill monroe, kentucky waltz


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