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JAK
Dec-11-2018, 4:57pm
Was Bill Monroe the first bluegrass player to own a Gibson F5 Lloyd Loar signed mandolin and bring it into his playing? Or were there other players before him that used one, and Bill got the idea from them? Did Bill know what he had when he bought his Gibson F5 in the barbershop regarding sound, quality, etc.? I know players used a Loar signed F5 in mandolin orchestras, but was Bill the first to introduce it to the world of bluegrass, or were there other bluegrass playing a Loar F5 before him?

Denny Gies
Dec-11-2018, 7:20pm
I'm not positive but I think maybe Dave Appolon owned one.

Bill McCall
Dec-11-2018, 7:34pm
I believe he got that instrument prior to Earl and Lester joining the band, so there was no bluegrass prior to that.

David Lewis
Dec-12-2018, 3:35am
I believe he got that instrument prior to Earl and Lester joining the band, so there was no bluegrass prior to that.

I’d agree with that. Didn’t he buy it about 1934?

The F5 was a bit of s flop I believe so I guess (and will no doubt be corrected if I’m wrong) that most professional players (Dave Apollon as a notable exception) either didn’t play one or moved it on quickly fir other instruments.

David Lewis
Dec-12-2018, 3:38am
Also, monroe knew what he had. He found it in a barber shop and paid 150 for it. Big money then. He then held onto it for 60 years. And refused to adjust the neck fir fear f ruining the tone

Ivan Kelsall
Dec-12-2018, 3:41am
Bill Monroe saw his 'Loar' hanging up in the window of a Florida barber shop. I haven't read anything to suggest that he knew anything about 'Loars' as a superior Gibson model. I suspect that like many of us would do,he saw it,liked it & went in to try it out. It turned out that he liked it 'a lot',& bought it. He certainly hadn't been on any 'quest' to find a 'Loar' - it was his (& our) good fortune that brought them together. At that time,a LLoyd Loar mandolin was simply a 'superior' grade one,judged tonally. It was only after BM began to play his own 'Loar' to the public after Bluegrass had taken off,that 'wannabe' Bluegrass mandolin players began to notice the quality of tone of BM's 'Loar',& thus the aquisition of a 'Loar' mandolin became a must for many players - as it is today,
Ivan ;)

David Lewis
Dec-12-2018, 3:47am
Thanks Ivan. You expressed what I wanted to but didn’t - he found it and recognised it as a great instrument just by playing it.

Mandoplumb
Dec-12-2018, 7:40am
No bluegrass player could have played an F5 before Monroe. He was the first bluegrass mandolin player. The F5 was made 20+ years before bluegrass, I'm sure some one else had played them but not in BG music.

grassrootphilosopher
Dec-12-2018, 8:18am
This seems to be a funny thread.

Was BM the first bluegrass musician to play an F-5 mandolin? Yes, because he was the first bluegrass musician, as he invented it.

Was Dave Appolon a bluegrass musician (post #2)? :mandosmiley: Dig youtube and see the kind of bluegrass DA has played.

Did BM buy the iconic Lloyd Loar F-5 around 1934? If you give or take ten years... The general consensus is that BM bought the F-5 in either 1942 or 1945. Around 1934 BM worked on radio shows in his early career. The first recordings were made around 1936. That time BM probably played the F-7.

Did other musician at that time play an F-5? I believe that in Bill´s competitor band, namely Charlie Monroe´s Kentucky Pardners, the notable mandolin picker Lester Flatt played a (30 ies) F-5.

MikeEdgerton
Dec-12-2018, 8:33am
Was Bill Monroe the first bluegrass player to own a Gibson F5 Lloyd Loar signed mandolin and bring it into his playing?...

Bill Monroe invented Bluegrass. There were no other Bluegrass players before him. The answer is yes, Bill Monroe was the first Bluegrass player to own a Gibson F5 Lloyd Loar signed mandolin.

If Monroe had played a Lyon and Healy mandolin we'd be talking about them.

Other players obviously played Loar signed mandolins but may or may not have assigned any special note to who signed the label in the instrument or when it was built.

Olaf and Mandoplumb beat me to it.

ralph johansson
Dec-12-2018, 8:42am
I believe he got that instrument prior to Earl and Lester joining the band, so there was no bluegrass prior to that.

According to Smith's bio, Monroe bought the F5 in 1943. Most people would date the beginning of Bluegrass as a genre to Dec 1945, when Earl Scruggs joined the band. But both Scruggs and Don Reno played in other bands before Monroe, so Scruggs liked to say that Bluegrass started with the Morris Brothers.

Monroe, on the other hand, claimed that BG started in 1939 with the first edition of the BG Boys, specifically with Mule Skinner Blues on which he played the guitar, supposedly to establish the Bluegrass beat. My guess is that on his first two recorded solo numbers as a singer (the other being Doghouse Blues) he just felt more comfortable backing himself on the guitar.

Monroe's exact motives for buying the F5 will never be known, but he probably became attached to it for its superior punch and volume. The main advantage of the F5 over the F7 is that the longer neck forces a better (higher) placement of the bridge.

Paul Kotapish
Dec-12-2018, 2:56pm
Just a clarification on the above-mentioned Dave Apollon — who was decidedly not a bluegrass mandolinist.

According to this article (http://www.mandozine.com/media/articles/apollon.html), "It is interesting to note that throughout his career, Dave used the Gibson F-5 mandolin exclusively, owning several."

I've seen a lot of the available film clips of Apollon playing, and he's wielding an F-5 in most of them. (There are a few exceptions (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4SFn5avl_E).)

I suspect that Apollon was the kind of player that LLoyd Loar and team had in mind when they designed the F-5 originally. Loar was a classical musician himself (my grandmother remembered seeing him playing viola in concerts in Kalamazoo when she was a young woman), and was looking to build a mandolin that had the same concert-hall-filling properties of a good Cremona violin. More about that here (http://siminoff.net/loar-the-man/).

There's no doubt about Bill Monroe's F-5 being an incredible instrument. But Monroe was pretty incredible on that F-7, too, and I have no doubt that whatever he played when he hit his stride with the Blue Grass Boys would have become the iconic standard for the idiom.

DavidKOS
Dec-12-2018, 3:46pm
I suspect that Apollon was the kind of player that LLoyd Loar and team had in mind when they designed the F-5 originally. Loar was a classical musician himself

Thank you Paul!

http://www.blatata.com/uploads/posts/2013-04/1364888041_foto.jpg

There was no Bluegrass music when the Loar designed Gibson mandolins were first made.

Apollon was in New York by 1919. The Loar/Gibson mandolins were first made after 1922.

And a reminder:

https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/threads/51381-Dave-Apollon-and-his-1923-Loar-73009

mrneil2
Dec-12-2018, 4:55pm
Just for fun looked this up in an inflation calculator

Adjusted for inflation, $150.00 in 1943 is equal to $2,188.08 in 2018.
Annual inflation over this period was 3.64%

Bill got his Loar for less than the price of a Northfield today. Pretty savy

Mandolin Cafe
Dec-12-2018, 4:56pm
While we're on the subject, the man talking the mandolin in person. This has been on the site in various places since at least 2010. Guessing some of you haven't heard it.

http://www.mandolincafe.net/mp3/73987_monroe_mandolin_story.mp3

Ivan Kelsall
Dec-13-2018, 4:40am
In the new Bill Monroe book by Tom Ewing,on page 125,it tells of BM finding his Loar mandolin in Florida in Jan.1945. In Feb.1945,BM & his 'Boys' travelled to Chicago to record on Tues.Feb.13. ''Rocky Road Blues'' was one of the first tunes to be recorded using his new mandolin. I remember the month of BM buying his Loar - 14th Jan.1945 was when i was born.

I don't know if this will work,but i looked up the 'relative $ value' of a Loar in 1923, $250 US (when BMs was made), to the $ value today :- http://www.in2013dollars.com/1923-dollars-in-2018?amount=250.

I don't know what US wages were like back in 1923,but here's a table of some wages back then :-
https://fraser.stlouisfed.org/title/3912/item/493011?start_page=71 It might give one an idea regarding just how long you'd have to work to afford a Gibson F5 in those days - dependent on your 'earning power',
Ivan;)

Fretbear
Dec-13-2018, 10:39pm
If we are talking Bluegrass Mandolin, as opposed to Bluegrass Music, I would suggest that Bill was not only it's first practitioner, but that he was doing it well before 1945.
His brother Charlie's guitar playing was straight up bluegrass guitar, down to the details, driving and prodding on Bill's ferocious mandolin playing. They were doing it well before Feb. 17, 1936, in Charlotte NC, where they first recorded on the Bluebird Label.
I also find it hard to believe that Bill played his Gibson F7 like that and was oblivious to the Gibson Master Models.

mrmando
Dec-14-2018, 2:10am
Film clips and photos of Apollon from the late '20s/early '30s show him with Lyon & Healy instruments. He did play a series of F5 instruments later in his career, some but not all of them Loars. Not exactly sure when he switched.

This sure sounds like oval-hole tone and probably a Lyon & Healy to me.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=liWQGvXo_MY

Ivan Kelsall
Dec-14-2018, 4:29am
It's true that Bill Monroe was playing in the style that ''would eventually become'' Bluegrass well before 1940,but it wasn't 'named' Bluegrass at that time,in fact Bill & Charlie were simply 2 more 'Old Timey' pickers back then - with a 'difference' maybe,but no more than that.

As for BM being aware of the higher end Gibson models,why should he have been ?. Unless he'd come into contact with other players who owned one,or had seen adverts for them,BM was satisfied with the one that he had - the old saying ''Ignorance is bliss''.
Much the same applies even today, regarding builders who eventually rise to the top. Steve Gilchrist (for example) was an 'unknown' for a while, until the quality of his mandolins became widely appreciated. Only then did the desire to own one - 'MAS' - hit a lot of players. In other words we can't know about all available mandolins all the time,
Ivan;)

GTison
Dec-14-2018, 9:39pm
Tom Ewing's new Bill Monroe biography is a great resource for these kind of questions. Including: his purchase date of the mandolin, the several dates of when his mandolin was worked on, (neck included), and many other things. While Ewing does not specifically address that Monroe knew about the F5 model, it seems to me that he may have well known about the F5 model. He was pretty well off at the time and did not seem ignorant of mandolins others played. Seems like he would have known. He had worked in urban Chicago in the 30's. And by 1945 lived in Nashville and had Performed in many places, so he wasn't just sitting at the farm reading the Sears catalog with a limited existence. However, maybe he didn't know, but he certainly knew after he got it that it was much different animal than the then current products Gibson put out.

This sparks me go back to Ewings book and read that section again. What kind of mandolin did Lester Flatt play with Charlie Monroe?

Ivan Kelsall
Dec-15-2018, 5:36am
Quote from GTison :- " Seems like he would have known."That's certainly 'possible' - but nowhere have i read that he made any effort to locate one. Also,just how many mandolin players were around at that time, playing what we refer to as Old Timey music,& just how many would have had the cash to buy one ??. Not many (IMHO).

Refering to the table that i linked to in post#16-the cost of a new Gibson F5 back in 1923 was the equivalent of $3,900 (approx.) today - the standard living wage for a worker averaged around $40 per week - that's nearly 98 weeks of work to afford the $3,900 for a new Gibson. Somehow i doubt very much if many 'Country' musicians at the time that Bill Monroe kicked off his career would have owned one.

Of course,we'll never know absolutely IF BM knew about Lloyd Loar's Gibson mandolins at all,but judging by what i've read in all the books on BM that i own - all of them (except 'Boss Men')- there's no hint of him knowing about them. If he did,he kept it to himself.

Quote #2 "...but he certainly knew after he got it that it was much different animal than the then current products Gibson put out." I'm sure that he realised that he had 'something special' - but i also wonder if he'd actually ever played any of the current Gibson production mandolins. My 'gut feeling',& judging by what i've read,BM was a guy very much focused on his music rather than the 'instrument' itself. Discovering his 'Loar',seems to have been purely coincidence. That he did discover it & play it as his 'premier instrument' for the whole of his playing career,has resulted in what might be rightly called - a Mandolin Revolution, which is still going on today,& which has resulted in this particular 'Treasure Trove' of all things mandolin - ''The Mandolin Cafe'' - how lucky can we realistically get (without the free handout of Lloyd Loar mandolins of course - LOL !!),
Ivan:grin:

RobBob
Dec-15-2018, 9:31am
Bill Monroe first revolutionized how mandolin was used in the brother duet setting and then took his aggressive approach to the instrument into a larger band context and explored a lot of music within this context. He found musicians who could understand his vision and could manifest it as a sound that fulfilled his vision. There is a wealth of aural evidence that you should listen to going back into the 1930's where he and his brother, Charlie started out as the Monroe Brothers. They split up in the late 30's and Bill formed the first iteration of the Bluegrass Boys which included women at times. His band was a university for learning the music Bill heard in his head and the very best of these musicians moved that vision forward. In the 1970's Bill Monroe's music took a sudden inward look and he began to produce a whole new kind of mandolin tunes. Even with A&R men messing with his sound, he was able to keep his vision of a sound rooted in Anglo balladry, smoked with Afro blues and hyped up by jazz influences that added to the instrumental spark. Listen until you hear all of this, then come back and ask questions. If you want to play bluegrass Bill Monroe is the root from which all scions are drawn. All others follow his lead.

Jeff Mando
Dec-15-2018, 1:38pm
With Bluegrass it is simple: Monroe invented it. Now, Rock'N'Roll, well, not so cut and dried......

RobBob
Dec-15-2018, 1:42pm
With Bluegrass it is simple: Monroe invented it. Now, Rock'N'Roll, well, not so cut and dried......

Well there a lot of those rock 'n roll elements in the 1940's bluegrass and Elvis did cover Blue Moon of Kentucky.
This was some of the music that Monroe might have heard back in the day.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-9D_Y3B_3w

Ivan Kelsall
Dec-16-2018, 6:17am
Bill Monroe's song ''Rocky Road Blues'' has more than a hint of the later ''Rock Around The Clock'' recorded by Bill Haley,& 'Bluegrass Stomp' has a very 'Bluesy' feel to it. Bill Monroe's recordings show that he had many different influences in 'his' music - why not ?,
Ivan

Mandoplumb
Dec-16-2018, 1:30pm
Rock - roll and bluegrass are syblins. People for some reason want to make BG much older. They are about the same age and they have the same parents !

David Lewis
Dec-16-2018, 4:30pm
Rock - roll and bluegrass are syblins. People for some reason want to make BG much older. They are about the same age and they have the same parents !

Pretty much actually. Even if you date bluegrass to 1939, the rise of jump and Western swing around the same time is significant.

In 1949 it’s only two years to rocket 88 and 4 to rock around the clock

Ivan Kelsall
Dec-17-2018, 4:12am
It's been said more than a few times,that some of Chuck Berry's guitar licks were 'borrowed' from the mandolin style of Bill Monroe,who,in turn,probably 'borrowed' them from the Blues guitarists that he'd heard. It happens all the time in music,so why should we be surprised ?,
Ivan

Mark Gunter
Dec-17-2018, 10:32am
It's been said more than a few times,that some of Chuck Berry's guitar licks were 'borrowed' from the mandolin style of Bill Monroe,who,in turn,probably 'borrowed' them from the Blues guitarists that he'd heard. It happens all the time in music,so why should we be surprised ?,
Ivan

I've heard mention of similarities between some of Monroe's playing (as in Bluegrass Stomp) and Chuck Berry's playing but I haven't heard of any definite music connection between them; where would I find that? I've heard that Chuck Berry's phenomenal use of double stops in his guitar playing was learned from imitating his piano players' licks on the guitar and adding blues string bending.

I think Monroe's music was probably influenced by the blues playing of Schulz and others, and by imitating the licks of ragtime piano and other popular music he heard on the radio and from other musicians.

I'd like to know of any direct influence Monroe actually had on Berry, or vice versa if any information exists on that. I find those kinds of stories or histories interesting, even though there is really no way to tell where all a person's influences come from.

Mark Gunter
Dec-17-2018, 10:42am
I heard an interesting theory (don't remember who was offering it), that the meteoric rise of popular music genre like ragtime, swing, bluegrass and rock and roll happened as broadcast radio spread across the country, and folk musicians began to try and play anything they could hear on the radio with whatever instruments were available. It's a good theory, and one that means that radio waves spreading across the Appalachians had a lot to do with creating a laboratory for the likes of Bill Monroe's genius.

DavidKOS
Dec-17-2018, 11:03am
I've heard that Chuck Berry's phenomenal use of double stops in his guitar playing was learned from imitating his piano players' licks on the guitar and adding blues string bending.
.

Yes, Chuck got some of it from Johnnie Johnson, but mostly I hear Charlie Christian, T-Bone Walker, and other 30's/40's guitarists in his playing.

mandopops
Dec-17-2018, 2:41pm
Yes & a heavy dose of Carl Hogan of Louis Jordan’s band. Those sliding double stops are out of the Jump Blues thing. His signature Johnny B lick is the kick off to Jordan’s Ain’t that just like a Woman. Chuck made no secret of his “borrowings” from Hogan, Charlie C, & T-Bone.
Joe B

EdHanrahan
Dec-17-2018, 3:57pm
Great conversation here, folks! But, for completeness and the sake of those relatively new to mandolin or, more specifically, mandolin lore (no pun intended!):

The venerated Mr. Loar thought he was designing that fancy F-5 for classical musicians! Based simply on timing, he would have had no concept of a thing called "bluegrass". Which, to me at least, is analogous to Mr. Fender designing the Jazzmaster -equally unsuccessfully- for jazz musicians, while probably having little concept of "surf" music and certainly no concept of a thing called "punk"! But those instruments did turn out to be stars in their not-necessarily-intended genres. I'd guess that there are others, but would rather avoid hijacking the thread!

RobBob
Dec-17-2018, 8:28pm
Chuck Berry was a fan of Bill Monroe and it is obvious in his attack on the guitar. Lots of repetitive down strokes with the pick and doubling of notes, especially the use of intervals 1-5 and 1-7 or 3-7 and other intervals. His Brown Eyed Handsome Man intro and break play well on the mandolin and the iconic intro, and its variation from such numbers Roll Over Beethoven, Johnny B Goode plays well on the mandolin. It may come as a surprise to many that rural African Americans listen(ed) to country music. Chuck Berry's music is very much rooted in country and unlike his fellow label mates was not a great blues singer. He excelled at story songs and hot guitar breaks. He was also my first guitar hero and organist Jimmy Smith have had an out-sized influence on my personal mandolin style. Listen to his sliding chord break on Memphis, pure mandolin magic if you play it on a mandolin.

David Lewis
Dec-18-2018, 1:08am
Yes, Chuck got some of it from Johnnie Johnson, but mostly I hear Charlie Christian, T-Bone Walker, and other 30's/40's guitarists in his playing.

Chuck definitely got the 'shuffle' from older blues guys, who got it from St Louis piano players. You can hear Robert Johnson and Son House play it. The fact he played in Bb, Eb, C#, and other 'non-guitar' keys suggested that Johnnie Johnson had a strong case that he'd written the rhytm parts (which he later almost successfully sued Chuck for - the judgement was that Johnnie was at least co-composer, but the statute of limitations had expired).

Ivan Kelsall
Dec-18-2018, 3:59am
Hi Mark - Your post #29 was exactly what i was refering to. Simply 'borrowed licks' as per Bill Monroe being influenced by Arnold Schultz's playing. If we accept that Chuck Berry did indeed 'borrow' a few BM licks,then i'd consider that to be pretty 'direct' - how could it not be ?. David Lewis points to a few good examples above,as does RobBob. Our own Eric Clapton borrowed heavily from Blues man Robert Johnson in his styling. We possibly only have to look in our own backyard to see (hear) how many mandolin players were influenced by Bill Monroe. If we,as players,hear a style that we really like,why wouldn't we use it in our own playing. My banjo style is 100% 'Scruggs' - like 1000's of other banjo players. If you want 'direct influence',Earl Scruggs has to be one of the most influential musicians ever. It was his banjo style that gave Bluegrass the 'sound' that we all associate with it,& i've heard no other style that i think is worthy to 'replace it', to give a Bluegrass band the sheer 'drive'; that most of us love,
Ivan;)

RobBob
Dec-18-2018, 7:48am
Chuck played where he sang and through the years the keys changed. Just watch the movie Hail Hail Rock and Roll where this is actually discussed. He also schools Keith Richards on his guitar technique in a not so polite way.

mandopops
Dec-18-2018, 9:49am
The Monroe to Berry connection has been discussed before & I don’t make the same connection. I don’t dispute Chuck, & it’s no surprise, & many Afro-Americans, listened to the Opry. Both Country & Blues Musicains would listen to each other’s Music & Radio Stations. Chuck did dabble in Steel Guitar, but chose to play Blues. I’m sure Chuck heard Monroe & enjoyed it. Yet, in the interviews I’ve read & heard it’s centered around the names mentioned earlier. First big influence is Nat Cole, the King Coke Trio featured Guitarist Oscar Moore a great, but much ignored player. This is important to Chuck’s vocal style. Chuck wanted to emulate the polished clear diction of Nat. This was important to his story telling. As for not being a great Blues singer, I differ. Chuck sang in the more polished “Uptown” style of Charles Brown, Leroy Carr, Ivory Joe, Billy Ekstine, etc. I still contend, based on listening & interviews, his Guitar style is from Charlie C, Carl Hogan, & T-Bone Walker. Chuck had respect & admired Bluesmen such as Muddy Waters, but it isn’t reflected in his vocal or Guitar style. Look on YouTube for a 2 part interview with Chuck by Robbie from the Band. I believe it was filmed for The Hail, Hail movie, but not used. Chuck & Robbie discuss all this & more. It’s worth watching.
David talks about Chuck getting his shuffle from older Blues players. Robert Johnson certainly played shuffles, Son House not so much. I doubt Chuck ever heard any Robert Johnson until well into the 60’s. Johnson’s recordings were simply unavailable. Chuck talks about shuffles from Boogie-Woogie Piano. He was in St. Louis & might have heard various Blues & Boogie from Henry Townsend & Roosevelt Sykes.
Ivan mentioned the Clapton/Johnson connection. No doubt Eric’s Musical world was forever changed after hearing Robert Johson(RJ). Though I don’t hear it reflected in his Guitar playing until his later years. Eric chose RJ songs, Rambling on my Mind,4 till late, & of course his signature, Crossroad, but his Guitar was still out of the Kings, Otis Rush, with a modern Rock attack. In his later years, Eric did play some of RJ’s tunes acousticaly closer to RJ. Although he never did master the more intricate finger picking. None of this is a knock on Eric. I like his Blues playing.
One last thing, I think of Berry & Carl Perkins as Musical brethren. I think Chuck could have written Blue Suede Shoes & Perkins could have written Johnny B. No evidence, just supposing.
Joe B

DavidKOS
Dec-18-2018, 10:48am
The Monroe to Berry connection has been discussed before & I don’t make the same connection. I don’t dispute Chuck, & it’s no surprise, & many Afro-Americans, listened to the Opry. Both Country & Blues Musicians would listen to each other’s Music & Radio Stations.

I do not hear the Monroe-Berry connection either.

Of course both musicians may have been influenced by some of the same musicians, but I see no direct link.

" featured Guitarist Oscar Moore a great, but much ignored player. "

Indeed!

Mark Gunter
Dec-18-2018, 1:04pm
I do not hear the Monroe-Berry connection either.

Of course both musicians may have been influenced by some of the same musicians, but I see no direct link.

" featured Guitarist Oscar Moore a great, but much ignored player. "

Indeed!

This is where I land on this myself - I don't see or hear the direct link. I've read and heard people supposing it, and that's why I asked for the evidence. I love tracking history and influences, but it's no more than a strong interest. I don't know as much of the facts as many of the folk here, so if I can learn something (other than just suppositions), I'm all ears. The comments by David Lewis and mandopops make plenty of sense to me from the little I do know.

ralph johansson
Dec-18-2018, 1:20pm
Bill Monroe invented Bluegrass. There were no other Bluegrass players before him. The answer is yes, Bill Monroe was the first Bluegrass player to own a Gibson F5 Lloyd Loar signed mandolin.

If Monroe had played a Lyon and Healy mandolin we'd be talking about them.

Other players obviously played Loar signed mandolins but may or may not have assigned any special note to who signed the label in the instrument or when it was built.

Olaf and Mandoplumb beat me to it.


No one invents a genre.

The reason we date the birth of BG to Monroe's 45-48(?) band is that that's what a lot of people took off from, from about 1949 on. Hardly anyone took off from the Victor bands without banjo or the accordion band which recorded only one date. And the one factor that sets the 45-48(?) band apart from the earlier bands is the banjo.

Monroe didn't invent the NC 3-finger style (nor did Scruggs). To Monroe's mind, of course, the main instrument always was the fiddle, which he didn't play. He knew what he liked and wanted, fiddlers that could handle both oldtime fiddle tunes and songs, people like Clayton McMichen and Arthur Smith.

The first truly BG fiddler may have been Howdy Forrester who however never recorded as a BG boy. But I believe the cats who really established an identifyable BG style of fiddling were Charlie Cline and Bobby Hicks. Oddly, Chubby Wise, never recorded an oldtime number with Monroe.

ralph johansson
Dec-18-2018, 1:26pm
If we are talking Bluegrass Mandolin, as opposed to Bluegrass Music, I would suggest that Bill was not only it's first practitioner, but that he was doing it well before 1945.
His brother Charlie's guitar playing was straight up bluegrass guitar, down to the details, driving and prodding on Bill's ferocious mandolin playing. They were doing it well before Feb. 17, 1936, in Charlotte NC, where they first recorded on the Bluebird Label.
I also find it hard to believe that Bill played his Gibson F7 like that and was oblivious to the Gibson Master Models.

To my ears Charlie Monroe's guitar playing is purely oldtime in its use of bass runs, much like Riley Puckett or Roy Harvey.
Monroe's mandolin playing became much bluesier later on but you can hear hints of his later style in "Sinner You Better Get Ready". And in "Goodbye, Maggie" you can hear some of the stuff he would later insert in just about any song in the key of C.

ralph johansson
Dec-18-2018, 1:27pm
Bill Monroe's song ''Rocky Road Blues'' has more than a hint of the later ''Rock Around The Clock'' recorded by Bill Haley,& 'Bluegrass Stomp' has a very 'Bluesy' feel to it. Bill Monroe's recordings show that he had many different influences in 'his' music - why not ?,
Ivan

More than a hint? Both are blues in the key of A, and that's about all.

Mandoplumb
Dec-18-2018, 4:25pm
No one invents a genre. The reason we date the birth of BG to Monroe's 45-48(?) band is that that's what a lot of people took off from, from about 1949 on. Hardly anyone took off from the Victor bands without banjo or the accordion band which recorded only one date. And the one factor that sets the 45-48(?) band apart from the earlier bands is the banjo.Monroe didn't invent the NC 3-finger style (nor did Scruggs). To Monroe's mind, of course, the main instrument always was the fiddle, which he didn't play. He knew what he liked and wanted, fiddlers that could handle both oldtime fiddle tunes and songs, people like Clayton McMichen and Arthur Smith.The first truly BG fiddler may have been Howdy Forrester who however never recorded as a BG boy. But I believe the cats who really established an identifyable BG style of fiddling were Charlie Cline and Bobby Hicks. Oddly, Chubby Wise, never recorded an oldtime number with Monroe.

Maybe invent is the wrong word, and yes other people had developed methods on different instrument that became part of this style but it had not come together to produce one "sound" until Mr. Monroe put them together and worked to produce a band sound that became Bluegrass so I still say there was no bluegrass mandolin player before Monroe. Also no BG guitar before Flatt, no BG banjo before Scruggs,etc because there was no bluegrass before these men came together.

Ivan Kelsall
Dec-19-2018, 4:08am
From Ralp Johanson - "Monroe didn't invent the NC 3-finger style (nor did Scruggs)." Very true. I started taking lesson in Classic Banjo in 1963 just to get me going. My lessons were taken from Books dating both prior & maybe a tad after ES was born. What he did however,was to develop a 'style of playing' that fitted country music, & eventually Bluegrass music perfectly.

''Nobody invents a genre'' - I'm not sure that's always true. There have been many genres of what we call 'Pop' music,that you may consider to have been 'invented' or at least 'contrived', in order to begin a new trend that will sell records. As for Bluegrass music - if we take Bill & Charlie Monroe's music as a starting point,after the split,Bill Monroe does seem to have had a pretty good idea as to what he was aiming for .His early bands had several different instrument arrangements,which must have pleased him at the time. The 'music styling was there' but lacking the ingredient that would eventually send the music sky high - Earl Scruggs's banjo style. When that happened,Bill Monroe's music took on a very distinctive sound all of it's own,which folk loved,& which as we know, became known as Bluegrass Music. Bill Monroe didn't 'invent' Bluegrass music,it's more like he 'cultured the roots of it' until it grew into what we know today,
Ivan;)
173471

David Lewis
Dec-19-2018, 6:25am
The Monroe to Berry connection has been discussed before & I don’t make the same connection. I don’t dispute Chuck, & it’s no surprise, & many Afro-Americans, listened to the Opry. Both Country & Blues Musicains would listen to each other’s Music & Radio Stations. Chuck did dabble in Steel Guitar, but chose to play Blues. I’m sure Chuck heard Monroe & enjoyed it. Yet, in the interviews I’ve read & heard it’s centered around the names mentioned earlier. First big influence is Nat Cole, the King Coke Trio featured Guitarist Oscar Moore a great, but much ignored player. This is important to Chuck’s vocal style. Chuck wanted to emulate the polished clear diction of Nat. This was important to his story telling. As for not being a great Blues singer, I differ. Chuck sang in the more polished “Uptown” style of Charles Brown, Leroy Carr, Ivory Joe, Billy Ekstine, etc. I still contend, based on listening & interviews, his Guitar style is from Charlie C, Carl Hogan, & T-Bone Walker. Chuck had respect & admired Bluesmen such as Muddy Waters, but it isn’t reflected in his vocal or Guitar style. Look on YouTube for a 2 part interview with Chuck by Robbie from the Band. I believe it was filmed for The Hail, Hail movie, but not used. Chuck & Robbie discuss all this & more. It’s worth watching.
David talks about Chuck getting his shuffle from older Blues players. Robert Johnson certainly played shuffles, Son House not so much. I doubt Chuck ever heard any Robert Johnson until well into the 60’s. Johnson’s recordings were simply unavailable. Chuck talks about shuffles from Boogie-Woogie Piano. He was in St. Louis & might have heard various Blues & Boogie from Henry Townsend & Roosevelt Sykes.


I

Just a clarification: I didn't mean to suggest he got his shuffle from Robert Johnson, just that Robert used it - I absolutely agree that Robert Johnson was probably not known to many people till King of the Delta Blues Singers gets to the UK in the late 50s, early 60s. Elijah Wald suggests this very stongly in his book on the blues, and he makes a strong evidential case.

I picked Robert as an accessible player who used the shuffle - Son House was most likely a misremembering on my part - I was fascinated to see that Chuck admitted his style came out of St Louis (I'd never seen that before - so thank you (most likely, it's common knowledge that has evaded me)

So, thanks for pointing it out and improving what I should have said. :)

David Lewis
Dec-19-2018, 6:28am
More than a hint? Both are blues in the key of A, and that's about all.

Sing 'Well the road is rocky and it won't be rocky long'

And then sing 'Well, come out of that kitchen and rattle those pots and pans'

Not identical, but close enough ....

It's not Rock Around the CLock - It's Shake Rattle and Roll...

Hank did the Doghouse one which is Rock around the clock...

Timbofood
Dec-19-2018, 8:12am
Interesting, 47 posts and this has NOT degenerated into a “Thats Not Bluegrass” thread!
Even though Jim and Jesse did a Chuck Barry album in “their style” it’s (in my opinion) not very Bluegrass nor R&R.
Some things simply earn their own place.
I hope I have not thrown gasoline on anything there.

RobBob
Dec-19-2018, 11:00am
The Monroe to Berry connection has been discussed before & I don’t make the same connection. I don’t dispute Chuck, & it’s no surprise, & many Afro-Americans, listened to the Opry. Both Country & Blues Musicains would listen to each other’s Music & Radio Stations. Chuck did dabble in Steel Guitar, but chose to play Blues. I’m sure Chuck heard Monroe & enjoyed it. Yet, in the interviews I’ve read & heard it’s centered around the names mentioned earlier. First big influence is Nat Cole, the King Coke Trio featured Guitarist Oscar Moore a great, but much ignored player. This is important to Chuck’s vocal style. Chuck wanted to emulate the polished clear diction of Nat. This was important to his story telling. As for not being a great Blues singer, I differ. Chuck sang in the more polished “Uptown” style of Charles Brown, Leroy Carr, Ivory Joe, Billy Ekstine, etc. I still contend, based on listening & interviews, his Guitar style is from Charlie C, Carl Hogan, & T-Bone Walker. Chuck had respect & admired Bluesmen such as Muddy Waters, but it isn’t reflected in his vocal or Guitar style. Look on YouTube for a 2 part interview with Chuck by Robbie from the Band. I believe it was filmed for The Hail, Hail movie, but not used. Chuck & Robbie discuss all this & more. It’s worth watching.
David talks about Chuck getting his shuffle from older Blues players. Robert Johnson certainly played shuffles, Son House not so much. I doubt Chuck ever heard any Robert Johnson until well into the 60’s. Johnson’s recordings were simply unavailable. Chuck talks about shuffles from Boogie-Woogie Piano. He was in St. Louis & might have heard various Blues & Boogie from Henry Townsend & Roosevelt Sykes.
Ivan mentioned the Clapton/Johnson connection. No doubt Eric’s Musical world was forever changed after hearing Robert Johson(RJ). Though I don’t hear it reflected in his Guitar playing until his later years. Eric chose RJ songs, Rambling on my Mind,4 till late, & of course his signature, Crossroad, but his Guitar was still out of the Kings, Otis Rush, with a modern Rock attack. In his later years, Eric did play some of RJ’s tunes acousticaly closer to RJ. Although he never did master the more intricate finger picking. None of this is a knock on Eric. I like his Blues playing.
One last thing, I think of Berry & Carl Perkins as Musical brethren. I think Chuck could have written Blue Suede Shoes & Perkins could have written Johnny B. No evidence, just supposing.
Joe B

Nothing you say seems contradictory to what I stated earlier. You fleshed out what I was saying very nicely. While you may not see the Monroe/Berry connection but having played both on mandolin I find the connections to be strong. Perceptions are what they are I am only going on my experience, but I do appreciate your insights. Both Perkins and Berry had a penchant for the surreal and you also pointed that out nicely too. Rock n Roll is the happy marriage of country and blues, the White and the Black music traditions both of which made good use of the mandolin.

mandopops
Dec-19-2018, 12:19pm
RobBob,
I agree that there is a musical connection as far as being 2 branches of the great Americana tree of Music. Absolutely, no dispute.
I was questioning that Chuck heard Monroe’s Mandolin style & incorprated it in to his Guitar style, those driving double stops. I don’t believe so. I do believe he heard Carl Hogan’s kick off to Just like a Woman & decided, yes, I’m going to use that.
They are Brothers in the Blues, just went down different paths. We are all richer for it.
Joe B

David Lewis
Dec-19-2018, 8:04pm
Sing 'Well the road is rocky and it won't be rocky long'

And then sing 'Well, come out of that kitchen and rattle those pots and pans'

Not identical, but close enough ....

It's not Rock Around the CLock - It's Shake Rattle and Roll...

Hank did the Doghouse one which is Rock around the clock...

'The doghouse one': Move it on over

RobBob
Dec-19-2018, 10:33pm
Mandopops, I read somewhere and it is around here in a book, about this and Berry stated that he was a fan of country music and he mentions Bill Monroe as an influence. Here's a quote attributed to Carl Perkins from Wikipedia: "He and Carl Perkins became friends. Perkins said that "I knew when I first heard Chuck that he'd been affected by country music. I respected his writing; his records were very, very great." As they toured, Perkins discovered that Berry not only liked country music but also knew about as many songs as he did. Jimmie Rodgers was one of his favorites. "Chuck knew every Blue Yodel and most of Bill Monroe's songs as well", Perkins remembered. "He told me about how he was raised very poor, very tough. He had a hard life. He was a good guy. I really liked him."[30]

chuck3
Dec-19-2018, 11:02pm
I'm sure Chuck Berry listened to Bill Monroe, but I expect he also listened to blues musicians like Blind Boy Fuller. Listen to this tune from BBF in 1940 and tell me you don't hear what's about to come from Chuck Berry.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YbQa-SsjD0A

mandopops
Dec-20-2018, 10:12pm
Chuck is living on here.
I do believe Chuck liked Country Music & Bill Monroe. No disagreement. I just believe his Guitar style was based on the names he himself has stated on film & print. Why should I argue with him? Also, they are players I would expect an African-American teenager to be listening to in the 30’s & 40’s. I’m just guessing, but I don’t suppose at the time recordings of Blind Boy Fuller or Jimmie Rodgers were readily available or getting much radio air play in St. Louis. Unless Chuck was some avid record collector scouring around for old 78’s, how many Fuller or Rodger’s recordings would he have heard? Would he know a song or 2? Sure, possible. (Am I questioning Carl’s memory? Yea, I am. No malice. Carl seemed a nice gentleman & had nice things to say about Chuck.) I think Chuck was digging Big Bands & Jump Blues in Dance halls & on the Radio. I say this because he’s talked about Basie, Jordan, & Cole. That makes sense to me. If he wanted to meet girls, better to sing a Nat Cole ballad than a Blue Yodel. When you look through the Berry catalog, when not singing his originals songs he predominantly draws on Blues, big city urban Blues.
(As we all know, the opposite is true about Jesse McR. He did a whole album of Chuck’s tunes. He attempted to adapt Chuck’s licks to Mandolin. I love that record.)
It’s been years since I read Chuck’s auto-bio. As I recall his upbringing was considered middle-class, not poor. In saying that, I certainly don’t want to imply that as a Black person in America his life was not tough.
Fun conversation.
Hail, Hail, Bill Monroe.
Joe B

Mark Gunter
Dec-20-2018, 11:41pm
Hey, right on Joe B, Chuck lives on here, and so does Bill Monroe; great discussion.

I think you come up just a little short by restricting Chuck's influences to the names he mentioned on film and in print. I think that if you reflect on it, you'll agree that any interview for print or the camera would represent a very tiny fraction of the man's life, and whatever he might say in such an interview could hardly be considered exhaustive. Those things are so obvious that I feel a bit foolish to have to mention them. Considered another way, when a person asks you who are your influences, what musicians come to mind? How long is the list, and how comprehensive? What if they'd asked you ten years ago? What might you say ten years from now?

Also, I doubt it is safe to assume that Chuck hadn't access to the teens and twenties and early thirties blues records. "Race" records, in the parlance of the times. Or for that matter, Jimmie Rodgers or the Carters. I could be wrong, but I have an imagination just as you do, and I can imagine that on the radio and in the bars of St. Louis a person who aspired to be a consummate musician in that day could have been exposed to all of that relatively easily.

So, no malice intended at all, I love the discussion, but Carl Perkins probably had a better read on it than you do, notwithstanding he could have mis-remembered or mis-spoken. I certainly do it often enough. But I have to say that although I do not see or hear the direct influence of Bill Monroe on Chuck Berry, I can easily imagine the scene Carl Perkins paints of Chuck being able to play Monroe songs and Jimmie Rodgers songs. Seems a natural sort of thing to me, for a person who is consciously exposing himself to all the music he can find.

Mark Gunter
Dec-20-2018, 11:54pm
For my part: It seems to me that Jimmie Rodgers often does not receive the credit he deserves from folk of our own time. Jimmie Rodgers was a very big deal nationwide. Not only did he write numerous great songs, cover numerous great songs, cut records and receive a lot of radio air play, he also appeared in film. He was featured in a Columbia short which was copiously played in theaters between feature films. People in St. Louis knew very well who Jimmie Rodgers was, and musicians in St. Louis were exposed to his music.

The above sounds like a factual pronouncement - well, to the best of my knowledge, it is factual. I'm open to correction if it is not factual, point me to the truth.

Ivan Kelsall
Dec-21-2018, 5:02am
I'm pretty sure that in the DVD ''Bluegrass Journey'',Tim O'Brien mentions that some of the techniques that Chuck Berry used on guitar,were 'borrowed' from Bill Monroe,who in turn,possibly 'borrowed' them from the negro bluesmen that he'd heard. I think that it's around the time that Tim O'Brien / Ronnie McCoury & Chris Thile sit down to play ''Bluegrass Stomp''. I am also sure that Chuck Berry, like almost all other musicians, freely 'borrowed' any techniques that he liked & incorporated them into his own playing - just as i've done on banjo for 50 + years. If you hear a new technique & you like it,try it on for size - why ever not ?,
Ivan;)

Mark Gunter
Dec-21-2018, 11:25am
Ivan, that's the very movie (and scene) I had in mind in my earlier post when I wrote, "I've heard mention of similarities between some of Monroe's playing (as in Bluegrass Stomp) and Chuck Berry's playing but I haven't heard of any definite music connection between them; where would I find that?"

Nothing Tim said there would lead me to jump to the conclusion that Chuck borrowed his licks from Bill Monroe. The Carl Perkins quote that RobBob brought up does help me to see a connection, though, in that I can believe it's quite likely that Chuck listened to and played some of Bill Monroe's tunes. Tunes like the Bluegrass Stomp would have been close to his wheelhouse and drawn from the same well of the blues, so to speak. Tunes like Blue Moon Of Kentucky would have been interesting to many musicians who heard that waltz and were interested in the country sound. I daresay there is not a single one of us who can catalog for certain what all our influences have been. A lot of it is subconscious. It's an interesting subject. When I hear such things, I like to keep an open mind, and at the same time avoid jumping to conclusions.

Ivan Kelsall
Dec-22-2018, 3:12am
Hi Mark - I agree,we'd never really 'know' if Chuck Berry actually did crib any of Bill Monroe's licks,but the similarities are hard to ignore. However - 'Blues style' in general, is such a wide open,'play it as you feel it' genre, that it would be hard to know ''whom'' played ''what'' first - but does it matter,not IMHO. I'm pretty sure that BM did indeed absorb a lot of the 'feel' in his playing from Arnold Schultz,something i think that we all understand.

I think that Tim O'Brien was simply making a point regarding the similarities in CBs & BMs playing in 'Bluegrass Stomp',
Ivan

RobBob
Dec-22-2018, 8:54am
For my part: It seems to me that Jimmie Rodgers often does not receive the credit he deserves from folk of our own time. Jimmie Rodgers was a very big deal nationwide. Not only did he write numerous great songs, cover numerous great songs, cut records and receive a lot of radio air play, he also appeared in film. He was featured in a Columbia short which was copiously played in theaters between feature films. People in St. Louis knew very well who Jimmie Rodgers was, and musicians in St. Louis were exposed to his music.

The above sounds like a factual pronouncement - well, to the best of my knowledge, it is factual. I'm open to correction if it is not factual, point me to the truth.

I was thinking about this very thing this morning. In the 40', 50' and 60's Jimmy Rodgers records were still easily attainable in a record store. He was still quite popular among country fans and many artists did tribute LPs to him including Grandpa Jones and much more famously Merle Haggard. Let's remember that Chuck Berry's first hit Maybelline was originally called Ida Red. The Chess brothers thought it was too corny and renamed it. Chuck was aware of the music around him, all of it that he deemed good. Like us with our favorite mandolin players. I like everyone from Charlie McCoy and Louie Bluie to Monroe, Stiernberg, Johnny Young, Johnny Gimble, Jethro Burns, Vernon Derrick, Herschel Sizemore to folks no one has ever heard of. But exploring these details, the history and speculating on how all of this is interrelated is the fun part for me.

Mark Gunter
Dec-22-2018, 10:40am
In the 40', 50' and 60's Jimmy Rodgers records were still easily attainable in a record store. He was still quite popular among country fans and many artists did tribute LPs to him including Grandpa Jones and much more famously Merle Haggard.

Ernest Tubb put a great deal of energy into assuring that Jimmie Rodgers' records remained readily available for as long as possible.

https://cocaineandrhinestones.com/ernest-tubb-texas-defense

ralph johansson
Dec-23-2018, 3:43am
Sing 'Well the road is rocky and it won't be rocky long'

And then sing 'Well, come out of that kitchen and rattle those pots and pans'

Not identical, but close enough ....

It's not Rock Around the CLock - It's Shake Rattle and Roll...

Hank did the Doghouse one which is Rock around the clock...

I don't sing but I have the use of my own two ears. Roughly the "melody" of SR&R consists of the same phrase, beginning on the tonic note, sung three times. RRB roughly repeats one phrase, beginning on the fifth, and contrasts it with another phrase in the last 4 bars. And in RARtC the three four bar periods are mutually different.

I had never guessed that the comparison between RRB and RARtC was about their "melodies". Of course, their grooves are much different, too. RRB is very square and stompy, whereas RRAtC, like much of Haley's early work was based on country boogie, with the addition of drums.

ralph johansson
Dec-23-2018, 3:50am
Chuck definitely got the 'shuffle' from older blues guys, who got it from St Louis piano players. You can hear Robert Johnson and Son House play it. The fact he played in Bb, Eb, C#, and other 'non-guitar' keys suggested that Johnnie Johnson had a strong case that he'd written the rhytm parts (which he later almost successfully sued Chuck for - the judgement was that Johnnie was at least co-composer, but the statute of limitations had expired).

The guitar, just like the mandolin, is a fretted stringed instrument, allowing chord and scale patterns to be transposed up and down the neck, hence there really are no "guitar" or "non-guitar" keys. But Bb and Eb (possibly Db, too) are very comfortable keys on sax, trumpet and piano, and finally, the key is the singer's decision.

David Lewis
Dec-24-2018, 1:29am
I don't sing but I have the use of my own two ears. Roughly the "melody" of SR&R consists of the same phrase, beginning on the tonic note, sung three times. RRB roughly repeats one phrase, beginning on the fifth, and contrasts it with another phrase in the last 4 bars. And in RARtC the three four bar periods are mutually different.

I had never guessed that the comparison between RRB and RARtC was about their "melodies". Of course, their grooves are much different, too. RRB is very square and stompy, whereas RRAtC, like much of Haley's early work was based on country boogie, with the addition of drums



The differences are superficial but the similarities go right to the bone.

If we want to get really picky look at Elvis’s blue moon of Kentucky which Monroe more or less appropriates later.

David Lewis
Dec-24-2018, 1:32am
The guitar, just like the mandolin, is a fretted stringed instrument, allowing chord and scale patterns to be transposed up and down the neck, hence there really are no "guitar" or "non-guitar" keys. But Bb and Eb (possibly Db, too) are very comfortable keys on sax, trumpet and piano, and finally, the key is the singer's decision.



Yes.. which is why I put ‘guitar keys’ in inverted commas. But some keys lend themselves to guitar and mandolin and banjo a bit better. I mean we could bring in guns and roses who do a lot of songs in Eb ad D b and Ab. But then the instruments are turned down a semitone.

DavidKOS
Dec-24-2018, 10:09am
Yes.. which is why I put ‘guitar keys’ in inverted commas. But some keys lend themselves to guitar and mandolin and banjo a bit better. I mean we could bring in guns and roses who do a lot of songs in Eb ad D b and Ab. But then the instruments are turned down a semitone.

Exactly - they are still playing in E, D and A as far as fretting.

Mark Gunter
Dec-24-2018, 12:48pm
You can play in any key on guitar or mandolin, and I love learning to do it more and better, but obviously certain keys are more readily attainable for guitar players. That's why we speak of "cowboy chords" or "money chords," and that's why we have capos. My memory is not good enough to recollect the actual keys involved, but I know that Don Felder wrote the Hotel California guitar part in one key (probably E?), and when the song was fashioned by Frey and Henley they wanted it in another key ... Don's licks depended on the more open key he'd started in, so he had to use a capo on the song. I've heard him tell that story many times. Other examples abound. Nothing wrong with saying that the horn keys differ from guitar keys.

David Lewis says, "If we want to get really picky look at ..."

Well of course, this is our friend Ralph, his M.O. is to get really picky. :))

Ralph's contrary opinions often have a lot of great information in them. It's all good.

Merry Christmas, one and all. :mandosmiley:

David Lewis
Dec-24-2018, 8:47pm
You can play in any key on guitar or mandolin, and I love learning to do it more and better, but obviously certain keys are more readily attainable for guitar players. That's why we speak of "cowboy chords" or "money chords," and that's why we have capos. My memory is not good enough to recollect the actual keys involved, but I know that Don Felder wrote the Hotel California guitar part in one key (probably E?), and when the song was fashioned by Frey and Henley they wanted it in another key ... Don's licks depended on the more open key he'd started in, so he had to use a capo on the song. I've heard him tell that story many times. Other examples abound. Nothing wrong with saying that the horn keys differ from guitar keys.

David Lewis says, "If we want to get really picky look at ..."

Well of course, this is our friend Ralph, his M.O. is to get really picky. :))

Ralph's contrary opinions often have a lot of great information in them. It's all good.

Merry Christmas, one and all. :mandosmiley:

It’s a discussion I’m enjoying and I hope everyone is.

ralph johansson
Jan-16-2019, 7:58am
The differences are superficial but the similarities go right to the bone.

If we want to get really picky look at Elvis’s blue moon of Kentucky which Monroe more or less appropriates later.

Not sure that I get your point.


When Ivan K suggested that RAtC is somewhat similar to RRB I assumed that he was referring to groove and beat, like Richard Smith on p. 134 in his bio. You support (???) his view by referring to the striking similarity between the melodies (!!!) of RRB and SR&R, indicating (?) that Jesse Stone took his melody from Monroe’s song.

I find that highly improbable, as Stone was a black musician, 10 years older than Monroe. Also Monroe didn’t write “his” song at all. It was apparently brought to the band by Stringbean who most likely learned it from some obscure black musician, possibly a recording. And, really, the melody of RBB is composed of phrases that are as old as the blues, and have been used over and over again before and after 1945.

As for RAtC there is no evidence that Bill Haley was aware of Monroe. You get an idea of his sources and development by listening to his Holiday/Essex recordings, e.g., the covers of Rocket 88, Rock the Joint, and Tennessee Jive (which he called “Real Rock Drive”) and his own Whatcha Gonna Do, Sundown Boogie, and Green Tree Boogie; not much Monroe there. I’ve read several interviews with Haley about his influences and never found any reference to Monroe, and I certainly don’t hear it, as I’ve explained above.

(Incidentally, Haley’s version of RAtC differs substantially from the printed sheet music, and Sonny Dae’s version, and, like RRB, is composed of folk phrases).

I wish people would listen instead of reading books. Smith’s bio is chock full of hyperbole about Monroe’s “astonishing versatility”,”playing the mandolin like a rock guitar”, being “the most broadly talented and broadly influential figure in the history of American popular music”, and his influence on, e.g., Carl Perkins and Chuck Berry (a dubious distinction, anyway). As others have pointed out it’s more accurate to say that he was in part influenced by the same, or similar, sources, and incorporated them in his own, somewhat square, rhythmic conception.

Below I’ve attached a rough transcription of the first line of SR&R
and RRB, ignoring the finer rhythmic details (which defy notation, anyway). I’ve stuck to Turner’s original key of Eb (Haley did it in F, Presley in E).

I’m always willing to learn. Could you explain in what sense the two songs differ only superficially?

David Lewis
Jan-16-2019, 8:35am
Sure.

This may be beyond the limitations of a forum post but I’ll press on.

Firstly let’s make sure we’re comparing the same songs. I’m comparing 'Rocky Road blues' with 'shake rattle and roll'. At some point we’ve all got confused and my forgetting of a title earlier has compounded that. For my part in all of this I apologise.

Before I start going to the books, let’s listen.

Well the road is rocky but it won’t be rocky long {RRB)

Well Get out of that kitchen and rattle those pots and pans (SRR)

The first has 13 syllables the second 14. But Rattle has a passing syllable. So the lines are very close.

Many times I’ve played both to university music students. Sometimes before the first line of rocky road is finished they’d start singing shake rattle and roll.

You’re right where you say that Monroe’s is stiffer. No argument from me except that this is where the tricky and often fruitless discussion of genre pops up. The later versions are looser; but the stresses are pretty much the same.

Tom Ewing documents Chuck Berry’s being influenced by Bill Monroe. Most of the rockers were, as were a lot of the swing guys. Armstrong and Sinatra were avid fans of the Opry. Blues men like B. B king listened as much as they could too. The was required listening if you weren’t otherwise engaged. So thanks to radio, there was a LOT of cross fertilisation. I think these tunes were older. The point really is that monroe heard it and used it first. Did others use it? Or earlier variants?

It’s late here and I might be furiously editing for clarification in the morning. But but hopefully I’ve cleared some stuff up for you

Ivan Kelsall
Jan-17-2019, 1:32am
From Ralph Johansson - ".....I assumed that he was referring to groove and beat. " Absolutely Ralph.

I think that it's fairly safe to assume that Bill Monroe / Chuck Berry / Carl Perkins / Elvis Presley etc.,listened to almost every style / genre of music that was around back then,& if they heard something that they liked,they'd use it in their own music - just as many musicians do today. IMHO - It's very hard not to be influenced by all the music that we hear. Whether conciously or sub-conciously,some of it sticks in our memory & becomes part of our personal box of tricks 'n licks,
Ivan

AwesomeDaws
Jan-17-2019, 9:08am
I’d agree with that. Didn’t he buy it about 1934?

The F5 was a bit of s flop I believe so I guess (and will no doubt be corrected if I’m wrong) that most professional players (Dave Apollon as a notable exception) either didn’t play one or moved it on quickly fir other instruments.

According to Richard D Smith, Monroe came upon his instrument in a barber shop window in Miami about 1943. Still, about 3 years before Lester and Earl came along.

Alex Orr
Jan-18-2019, 11:30pm
Inasmuch as Bill was THE first bluegrass mandolin player, then...yeah...he was also the first bluegrass mandolin player to play with a Loar-era F5.

Ivan Kelsall
Jan-20-2019, 3:41am
Alex - Whilst i believe that your comment above is correct - there might have been a few 'new' mandolin players in new bands,already influenced by Bill Monroe & the 'Boys' before BM got his own 'Loar' - do we know what they were playing ?. I suppose it really depends on how many Lloyd Loar mandolins were ''running loose'' in those days. However,the music itself,hadn't become know under the name 'Bluegrass' at that time.
What make / model of mandolin was Pee Wee Lambert toting around in 1940 for example ?. We know that he owned Loar # 71628 at one, time signed by LL Dec.20th 1922,so when did he get that ??.

I don't suppose that there's been much research done into 'whom was playing what' back then. However,it is hard to imagine anybody playing one in a true ''Bluegrass'' context as we've come to know it prior to BM,


Ivan;)

JAK
Jan-20-2019, 12:39pm
All of this begs the question, "What if Bill Monroe hadn't been born? Would somebody have come along and invented bluegrass music like Bill did, or would there be no bluegrass music even close to what Bill invented?"

Ivan Kelsall
Jan-21-2019, 3:28am
John - That question is a tad outside the remit of the thread in general - although i do understand it. We could ask many similar questions :- What if there were no banjos,mandolins,guitars & fiddles / bass fiddles ?. However,Bill Monroe was born & there are all those instruments - we can't change that,
Ivan

David Lewis
Jan-21-2019, 4:56am
All of this begs the question, "What if Bill Monroe hadn't been born? Would somebody have come along and invented bluegrass music like Bill did, or would there be no bluegrass music even close to what Bill invented?"

In

The first lines of this article I wrote sum up my opinion.

http://www.toppermost.co.uk/bill-monroe/

Mark Gunter
Jan-21-2019, 10:51am
The first lines of this article I wrote sum up my opinion.

http://www.toppermost.co.uk/bill-monroe/

Wow, David. Your opinion in that piece seems a bit over the top to me. No Monroe, no bluegrass. I can see that. But no Dylan? No Elvis?

As influential as Bill Monroe was on American music as a whole, he was certainly not wholly responsible for it. I don't see Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash or Bob Dylan being that dependent on what Bill Monroe did. Also, Bill Monroe did in no wise create the Grand Ol' Opry, but the Opry certainly helped to popularize Monroe and his style.

I'm all for giving him his props, but sometimes I read things about him that imply a nearly blind worship of the man, and your first paragraph seems to edge in that direction. Just my opinion here, and no offense intended.

doc holiday
Jan-21-2019, 1:32pm
As far as single-handedly creating a genre.....I'm guessing you don't listen to Django Reinhardt...

JAK
Jan-21-2019, 4:24pm
Well we can extend the concept to many other people and things. Like if Lloyd Loar hadn't been born would we even have the Gibson F5 Master Model design we have today? Makes me think of the Nobel Prize winners who came up with something first, while one or two or three other people from around the world were working on the same thing at the same time. It's somewhat tangential to my original post, but isn't that what we often do here?

Ivan Kelsall
Jan-22-2019, 2:53am
Hi Doc - Django Reinhardt was a Belgian born 'Romani-French' Gypsy,as were all his family family. The 'Gypsy' style of guitar playing that he became famous for,was already in place - but,he took it to another level. His father was already playing in a ''Gypsy'' band along with his 7 brothers,so the music was very well established long before JR was born.

So,far from creating the Gypsy Jazz genre in it's entirity,JR did expand & develop the techniques used,& maybe in that respect,he actually 'did' create a 'new sound' for an older musical genre.

Maybe the Chris Thile of the Gypsy Jazz guitar ??.

Mark - I tend to agree with you that sometimes our complete admiration for certain folk,can mar our judgement - to a degree. There isn't a person on the planet who admires Bill Monroe more than myself - but it's soley based on his music. I've read all the BM biographies available,& i'm sure that those others who've done the same will know that there were a few 'dark moments' in BM's life. I'm not sure whether it's in any way 'good or meaningful' in the context of his music to have read about those,but it does give us an understanding of the 'man' - ''warts 'n all ''.

Having recently read the new book by Tom Ewing,i read a few things that i may not have really cared to read about,but i see/hear about those sort of things every day. I've learned to put them to one side & remember what really matters - with Bill Monroe,of course,it's his music,
Ivan;)

David Lewis
Jan-22-2019, 6:28am
Wow, David. Your opinion in that piece seems a bit over the top to me. No Monroe, no bluegrass. I can see that. But no Dylan? No Elvis?

As influential as Bill Monroe was on American music as a whole, he was certainly not wholly responsible for it. I don't see Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash or Bob Dylan being that dependent on what Bill Monroe did. Also, Bill Monroe did in no wise create the Grand Ol' Opry, but the Opry certainly helped to popularize Monroe and his style.

I'm all for giving him his props, but sometimes I read things about him that imply a nearly blind worship of the man, and your first paragraph seems to edge in that direction. Just my opinion here, and no offense intended.

No offence taken. I thought about it very hard and qualified it. I only picked artists who deliberately praised monroe about the influence he had on them. Dylan's comments can be found in the Dylan encyclopaedia. Elvis. and Carl Perkins had a well scummed conversation, which is quoted in smith, can’t you hear me calling? Johnny cash can be found in his biography I think by hilburn.

I’m certainly not of the school that monroe was untouchable in critique. But his influence is immense.

Mark Gunter
Jan-22-2019, 8:49am
I'm glad no offense was given, David, because I think you know I respect your research; we've communicated a bit about it in recent years. I just disagree strongly with those initial assertions. It's one thing to note influences, and another to assert dependence. I seriously doubt those guys actually owe their careers to Bill Monroe. I could be wrong in that he may have saved Dylan from drowning in a river somewhere, Johnny Cash from being struck by a train, maybe pulled Elvis out of a fire at the peril of his life. Some important, unknown-to-me circumstance. Unlikely though. Being influenced by Bill Monroe (or Blind Willie, or Hank Williams, etc. etc.) as seminal as that can be, doesn't equate to there would be no Elvis, Dylan or Johnny Cash without one of those influences.

My point made, moving on. Godspeed on your research.

RobBob
Jan-22-2019, 9:25am
All of this begs the question, "What if Bill Monroe hadn't been born? Would somebody have come along and invented bluegrass music like Bill did, or would there be no bluegrass music even close to what Bill invented?"

Now that is a point to ponder. The possibilities are endless.

Mark Gunter
Jan-22-2019, 9:25am
I feel like I need to state clearly, Bill Monroe was GREAT and his influence felt worldwide, musically.

174194

Ivan Kelsall
Jan-23-2019, 2:02am
Absolutely Mark,& isn't that realistically ALL, we as musicians need to understand. However,as with most famous people,others will want the 'facts'. There's hardly a famous composer or musician that hasn't had at least a part of their life commited to paper for folks to read,& Bill Monroe is no exception.

One of my favourite Rock/Blues musicians is Eric Clapton. I have his autobiography,& take my word,it wasn't nice to read of him being totally close to death on drugs & booze at one point. However,the guy had the strength of personality & the courage to understand what he had to do to pull himself 'back from the brink' & he single handedly did it - nobody can do it for you,& that's one of the reasons why i admire the guy 'as a person' so much. When i listen to EC however,i never think of those bad times in his life - just his music,the same goes for Bill Monroe,
Ivan;)

Bernie Daniel
Jan-23-2019, 8:26am
According to Smith's bio, Monroe bought the F5 in 1943. Most people would date the beginning of Bluegrass as a genre to Dec 1945, when Earl Scruggs joined the band. But both Scruggs and Don Reno played in other bands before Monroe, so Scruggs liked to say that Bluegrass started with the Morris Brothers.

Monroe, on the other hand, claimed that BG started in 1939 with the first edition of the BG Boys, specifically with Mule Skinner Blues on which he played the guitar, supposedly to establish the Bluegrass beat. My guess is that on his first two recorded solo numbers as a singer (the other being Doghouse Blues) he just felt more comfortable backing himself on the guitar.

Monroe's exact motives for buying the F5 will never be known, but he probably became attached to it for its superior punch and volume. The main advantage of the F5 over the F7 is that the longer neck forces a better (higher) placement of the bridge.

Regarding your one point on why Bill Monroe bought the F-5. Being a mandolin player at the time and having owned at least two Gibson mandolins I am sure the Monroe was probably aware that the F-5 was the top Gibson model. Not sure if he ever saw a Gibson catalog from the day but they were around.

Someone should check to see exactly what Tom Ewing said about the Florida barbershop encounter in his biography. I can't recall exactly and I'd check it in my own copy but I loaned it to a friend after reading it earlier this month. Pretty good read BTW. I'll bet Tom as some comment or information about almost every month of Monroe's professional life? What a tome!

AlanN
Jan-23-2019, 8:51am
I'll liken it to Schwinn bicycles. When I was a kid, the company came out with 2 new 10-speed models: the Varsity and the Continental. The latter was sleeker/lighter/better than the former, hands down. Same with the F-5 Monroe saw in that barbershop window. No question.

UsuallyPickin
Jan-23-2019, 10:28am
Knowledge … knowing a tomato is a fruit …. Wisdom … knowing not to put a tomato in a fruit salad …. Philosophy ….. considering whether or not Catsup . . is a smoothie ….. Carry on … R/

Ivan Kelsall
Jan-24-2019, 3:33am
From AlanN - " I'll liken it to Schwinn bicycles...". I'd never heard of Schwinn bicycles until i read Stephen King's novel ''IT''.

Was Bill Monroe aware of the 'other,better' Gibson mandolins ?. Having read just how single minded BM was in his everyday life,i wonder if he did ,or even if he cared ?. The acquisition of his Loar might simply have been a fortunate circumstance. I've read of no evidence that he ever actually sought one out prior to that. However,many of us are aware of things that we don't actively seek out,but if we do come across a 'whatever',we snap it up !,
Ivan;)

allenhopkins
Jan-31-2019, 2:19pm
Well, here's what Monroe said about buying his famous Loar F-5: "I was in Miami, Florida, and I was just shopping around, you know, looking in store windows, things like that. I passed by this barber shop and this mandolin was laying in the window there, and had this little card up there with the price on it: $150. I went in and listened just a little, played a number or so, and bought it."

-- 1977 interview with David Grisman, quoted in Bill Monroe:The Life and Music Of the Blue Grass Man, by Tom Ewing, p. 125.

So, could well have been a spur-of-the-moment, serendipitous purchase, without a lot of thought involved -- ran across a really good instrument, at a low price, bought it. If it hadn't been a special instrument, well-suited to Monroe and his playing style, he might well have passed it on, bought another one later (as, I guess, he did as a back-up), thought little about it. Many mandolins passed through Monroe's hands over his career; this one stuck.

ralph johansson
Mar-12-2019, 9:57am
The first lines of this article I wrote sum up my opinion.

http://www.toppermost.co.uk/bill-monroe/

Dylan, Cash, and Presley certainly expressed admiration and respect for Monroe, but that doesn’t mean they were influenced by him in any important way. Can you *hear* it?

I’ve checked the index to Hilburn’s Cash biography and here is no mention of Bill Monroe there.

No one invents a genre.



Mule Skinner blues was the first song Monroe recorded with a band, and the first song he performed on the Opry. Before that he had never recorded a vocal solo or an instrumental. The Monroe Brothers’ popularity is perhaps best described as “regional”, but not really “stardom”. Most people would say that BG started in late ’45 when Scruggs joined the BG Boys, because that’s what others took off from. And it was the banjo that made the difference.

Rawhide: I can’t imagine Sam Bush making such a silly statement. Any documentation?

Rocky Road Blues: neither the melody (as I’ve explained very carefully above) nor the rhythm.

And last paragraph: are you suggesting that Hank Williams, Jimmie Rodgers, and Bob Wills, were non-persons?

David Lewis
Mar-12-2019, 2:55pm
Dylan, Cash, and Presley certainly expressed admiration and respect for Monroe, but that doesn’t mean they were influenced by him in any important way. Can you *hear* it?

I’ve checked the index to Hilburn’s Cash biography and here is no mention of Bill Monroe there.

No one invents a genre.



Mule Skinner blues was the first song Monroe recorded with a band, and the first song he performed on the Opry. Before that he had never recorded a vocal solo or an instrumental. The Monroe Brothers’ popularity is perhaps best described as “regional”, but not really “stardom”. Most people would say that BG started in late ’45 when Scruggs joined the BG Boys, because that’s what others took off from. And it was the banjo that made the difference.

Rawhide: I can’t imagine Sam Bush making such a silly statement. Any documentation?

Rocky Road Blues: neither the melody (as I’ve explained very carefully above) nor the rhythm.

And last paragraph: are you suggesting that Hank Williams, Jimmie Rodgers, and Bob Wills, were non-persons?

Not in the slightest. Bob wills and jimmy Rodgers, and the carters were huge influences too. And yes I can hear bluegrass: it’s in the rhythm. And don’t forget Elvis did Blue Moon Of Kentucky. Not note for note, and he didn’t know all the words. But he knew it and they did it.

Again, listen to rocky road blues and then compare it to shake rattle and roll. Not the big joe turner version, but bill Haley or Elvis. No Monroe, a lessened and lighter rock and roll.

The African Americans are also extremely important.

Mark Gunter
Mar-12-2019, 8:55pm
No Monroe, a lessened and lighter rock and roll.

The African Americans are also extremely important.

David, David, David. Personally, I think you over-amplify WSM's influence on rock & roll, and following with a nod to the blues as an afterthought is topsy turvy, I think.

I would agree that you're right in a sense, specifically in this sense: We might conjecture legitimately that the loss of any of the early luminaries of blues, country, bluegrass, ragtime, rock & roll - including Bill Monroe - may have resulted in a "lesser and lighter" legacy in rock & roll.

Timbofood
Mar-13-2019, 6:29am
And now the question first asked is slowly degrading into a discussion of musical influences, pretty soon it will become what is or isn’t bluegrass.
Making another pot of coffee before that rabbit hole is once again beaten to death.

Drew Egerton
Mar-13-2019, 7:52am
Well they did put a display on Big Mon in the Rock-n-Roll hall of fame, so I'd say more than a few people feel he had some influence there.

FLATROCK HILL
Mar-13-2019, 12:49pm
...before that rabbit hole is once again beaten to death.

Maybe it's the chef in you Timothy. You've really outdone yourself with this mixture. :)

allenhopkins
Mar-14-2019, 12:42pm
Influences are by nature unquantifiable; how much influence Monroe had on later musicians, especially those outside of bluegrass, is OK to speculate about, but impossible to accurately determine. Lots of them listened to Monroe, may have enjoyed his approach, technique, or repertoire -- but when you try to hear his influence in the music they produce, it can be difficult to identify or quantify it.

You can, for example, clearly hear late 1940's rhythm & blues African-American music all over early rock'n'roll, in terms of style, repertoire, subject material etc. You can hear "hot" country music from the same period all over rockabilly, and you can hear the white and black styles merging and producing a synthesis different from either source, but clearly related.

I can hear Bill Monroe in Buddy Holly's music, for sure. And sometimes I think I can hear it in Chuck Berry's as well, though not as clearly. But there so many other influences there; Hank Williams and Louis Jordan, Big Joe Turner and maybe even Sinatra. Picking out one of them as central baffles me.

What's the single most important ingredient in a chocolate cake? Whichever one you pick, you couldn't have the cake without it, I guess, but you could say the same about every other ingredient as well. Ranking ingredients -- you could go crazy...

Timbofood
Mar-15-2019, 4:59pm
Maybe it's the chef in you Timothy. You've really outdone yourself with this mixture. :)

Could be Hoss,
Doing a brace of corned beeves for a translated St. Patrick’s Day feast for family dinner tomorrow with the kids/grand children!
If you don’t try combining different ingredients, you have the same oatmeal for days!
But, that has really gone off the tracks with this crazy train! (That is not BG!:grin:)
Have a great feast for St. Patrick!