Bill Monroe Gospel A Hymn to His Greatness

Bill Monroe Gospel A Hymn to His Greatness

Bill Monroe Gospel – A Hymn to His Greatness

Bill Monroe is best known for the golden age of his career, starting from the mid-1940’s, with the creation of the Original Bluegrass Band all the way till the 1950’s. But few people are aware of his struggles in the latter stage of his career. Despite all such obstacles, however, Monroe re-emerged in the 1960’s a living legend and his reputation remained such for the rest of his life. This work chronicles the lesser-known parts of Bill Monroe’s life and a tribute to his vast achievements.

The Folk Revival Period

Since the late 1950’s, public demand for Bill Monroe and his Bluegrass Boys had steadily declined. The end seemed imminent if not for help from one of Monroe’s good friends, promoter Ralph Rinzier.

During the swinging sixties, college students and other youths began to discover – and appreciate – the unique style of music that emerged from the country and small towns in the West. It was around this time that the word ‘bluegrass’ was used to collectively refer to the music produced  by Flatt & Scruggs, the Stanley Brothers, and of course, Bill Monroe himself.

But while Monroe’s contemporaries had immediately recognized the potential for expansion, Monroe had stayed focused in rebuilding his career in the home front and continuing with his performances on the Opry.

It was only with the good advice from Ralph Rinzier that Monroe finally identified a new direction for his music. In 1965, the first multi-day festival celebrating bluegrass music took place at Roanoke, Virginia. The most anticipated performance for the festival was none other than that of Bill Monroe. It was then Monroe cemented his place in history and while the popularity of bluegrass music continued to rise and fall throughout the years, Monroe’s name was never to be forgotten.

Blue Grass Boys Go Diverse

Monroe’s band reflected the growing mix of culture in the country and this further increased its appeal to the public. More and more non-Southeners came to join the Bluegrass Boys. These included but aren’t limited to Richard Greene and Gene Lowinger (fiddle), Steve Arkin, Lamar Grier, and Bill Keith (banjo), and Peter Rowan (guitar/vocals).

Bill Monroe Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival

Monroe’s experience with festivals, combined with the impressive scenery in Bean Blossom, Indiana, led Monroe to establish his own bluegrass festival in the said area in 1967. Today, it is the longest continuous running bluegrass festival in history.

A Legacy

In 1989, Monroe celebrated fifty years of producing music with a performance on the Grand Ole Opry. He continued to go on tours even in his age and when he passed away in 1996, Monroe left a great gaping hole in the bluegrass scene that no one could ever fill.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Samuel L. Digsby September 5, 2010 at 6:14 am

I have always admired Bill Monroe and his music. I am a Vietnam war veteran and even over there, when possible, we would hear his music. I have been privileged to see him two times. Both times was at Sunset Park near West Grove,Pa. Would love to attend the BEANBLOSSOM BLUEGRASS
FESTIVAL at least one time in my life,, but got serious doubts of ever getting to go. I just hope this festival and others like it keep going on as long as time shall last. I LOVE BLUEGRASS MUSIC AND I ESPECIALLY LOVE BLUEGRASS GOSPEL MUSIC. I love it played the “old” way.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: