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Thread: Bill Monroe

  1. #1

    Default Bill Monroe

    How was he in real life? Love hearing stories about my heroes. Heard Jerry Reed and Don Rich were pretty cool fellers. How was Bill?

  2. #2

    Default Re: Bill Monroe

    Quote Originally Posted by JamesHall77 View Post
    How was he in real life? Love hearing stories about my heroes. ...
    Well... he was musically open-minded enough to not turn down a chance to play a pink electric guitar:


    (or direct link. Yeah I know, other people have posted that probably dozens of times on this site by now.)

    Other than that, all I know is that I shook hands with Bill Monroe once (he walked into the room to check on all of us at the end of a workshop that other members of his band were giving), and he seemed polite and gentlemanly, despite a bunch of other people all bunched up waiting their turn to get to talk with him for a few seconds. Whether or not he was always that polite and nice all the time, or just when greeting the public, I don't know, don't care, he was nice to me and that's what I remember.

    Some years after that, I was in the audience at one of his last public concerts, and I guess this is as much a reflection of the audience as of Bill himself, but I was impressed that even though his singing voice was showing its age, he still had the courage to knock those tunes out of the park and the audience still went wild with appreciation and respect for the Master.

    I guess that doesn't quite answer your question though, as I don't have any 'insider' info...

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  4. #3
    Emando lover David Lewis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bill Monroe

    I'm going to risk a flaming here and suggewt you read 'Can You Hear Me Calling' by Richard Smith. It portrays a complex man, who earned the respect of a whole heap of people, despite his flaws, or maybe because of him. I never met him (geographic being one of many factors), but I'd imagine I'd have liked him a great deal. He could be mischeivous, funny, aloof, domineering, gentle, harsh and cranky. He was great company, and a hard enemy to make. He mellowed in his later years.
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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bill Monroe

    Search for books about Bill Monroe & buy 'em all !. For me,he comes over as a very 'driven' character - 'driven' by the love he had for 'his music',Bluegrass. He seems to have been a pretty complex character as well. I had the fortune to meet him over here in 1966. He was really nice to speak to,& i wish i could have met him many times more.

    1) ''The Bill Monroe Reader'' by Tom Ewing.
    2) "Can't You Hear Me Calling'' by Richard Smith.
    3) "The Music of Bill Monroe'' by Neil Rosenberg & Charles K.Wolfe. Not a biography,a listing of all his music inc. song / tune origins,but it does give you an idea re.Bill Monroe's ideas on his music.
    4) ''I Hear a Voice Calling'' by Gene Lowinger,a one time fiddle player for Bill Monroe.
    5) ''Bluegrass Music - A History'' by Neil Rosenberg. Not specifically about Bill Monroe,more of the 'history & backround' of the music & society of the time,which gave rise to Bill Monroe's idea re.his own music & how it developed over the years.

    I'd also recommend the DVD - ''Bill Monroe,Father of Bluegrass Music'',
    Ivan
    Listen to a few of the stories about Bill Monroe here -amazing stuff !
    https://www.youtube.com/results?sear...monreo+stories

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    Default Re: Bill Monroe

    My contacts with Mr. Monroe were only as a fan of his at bluegrass shows and festivals. I first saw Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys at the Delaware Valley Festival in 1990. After seeing various bands take the stage dressed rather informally, it was striking to see the Bluegrass Boys take the stage in neatly pressed dress suits with hats. When we met him after the performance, Bill put his hat on my three year old son and gave him a quarter. My best memory of him was from the summer of 1994 at Sunset Park. Before his performance, Bill was back behind the stage area, mixing with fans and playing a mandolin. He showed me his instrumental, "Never Leave The A String". I asked him to play "What Would You Give In Exchange For Your Soul?" and we sang a verse and a chorus together. On the occasions I saw him, he was very kind and respectful to his fans. He was an impressive man.
    From watching various interviews and seeing him play a few times, I was very impressed by his sense of humor. He didn't go around repeating the same worn out jokes in his stage banter, as some country and bluegrass performers tend to do. But he made funny, witty off-the-cuff remarks. Even in his last years on Earth, he always asked the audience, "Does anybody have a request?" A good portion of his show was audience requests.

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    Registered User Henry Eagle's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bill Monroe

    Tom Ewing is currently busy writing a biography on Bill Monroe; should be interesting.

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    Default Re: Bill Monroe

    I've read three book about Monroe. Richard Smith's, "Can't you hear me calling." Tom Ewing's "Bill Monroe Reader."
    A third book I found, that really interested me, as a fan of Bluegrass as well as the Blues, was "Bossmen, Bill Monroe and Muddy Waters. Actually two books in one. It both compares and contrasts them as leaders in their fields of music. How they groomed musicians to carry on their own bands. Book is by James Rooney. Here is a write up on the book;

    "James Rooney compares and contrasts the careers of these two bossmen. Both grew up in remote rural areas. Muddy Waters heard field hollers, church music, jubilees, shouts, string band music, and the raw sound of the delta blues; for Bill Monroe it was square dance music, hymns, old country ballads and the fiddling of his Uncle Pen Vandiver. Both brought their music to the big cities: Bill to Nashville, Muddy to Chicago. Musicians who passed through their bands went on to form bands of their own, giving rise to the worlds of Bluegrass and Chicago Blues. But this is more than a book about music; it is a book about black and white America. In microcosm, it is almost a history of this country; and it sets up striking comparisons that cut deep into our heritage and ways. In the words of Pete Seeger: "Anyone in the world wanting to understand American music could well start right here."
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    Default Re: Bill Monroe

    Quote Originally Posted by Henry Eagle View Post
    Tom Ewing is currently busy writing a biography on Bill Monroe; should be interesting.
    Interesting. Would like to read it. I purchased Tom's other Monroe book, when my wife and I made our pilgrimage to Jerusalem Ridge. Along with that I purchased a CD with both Frank Wakefield and Ewing that was a tribute to Monroe. IIRC, Tom was staying in a trailer on the grounds as a caretaker of sorts as well as a tour guide. He wasn't the guide for our tour. Wasn't Tom one of the longest standing members of the Bluegrass boys? Thought I might have read that, along the way.
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    Default Re: Bill Monroe

    I met Bill Monroe 3 times,all at bluegrass festivals,,the first time,in 1979,I approached him and asked him for his autograph,,I handed him a business card to sign,he said "sure,hold this," and hands me his mandolin! I'm holding his loar as he signs my card,we trade back and I thank him and shake his hand,,,he acted like it was no big thing,,,

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    Default Re: Bill Monroe

    Great story T.D.!
    I'm waiting on a copy of 'Can You Hear Me Calling'. I wish I had taken the opportunity to see his band back when.
    Working atm on learning C.Henry's transcription of Monroe's Southern Flavor recording. I am in awe of Monroe's sense of timing and note selection

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    Default Re: Bill Monroe

    Thanks Mark,we gotta meet sometime,,,Chris Henry is the Monroe go to man,,imo..that's were I get all Monroe tunes,,he plays wheel hoss correctly and southern flavor is just an awesome tune,,I love playing it,and it's deceivingly tricky,,
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    Default Re: Bill Monroe

    I saw him perform maybe 1/2 dozen times, the first in 1976 at the Berkshire Bluegrass Festival. In 1978, The BGB performed at The Old Tucson Bluegrass Festival (Hot Rize also was there, this was before that first LP came out). I sat at the foot of the stage, tape recorder in hand. I remember Bill looking down at me and giving the nod as I taped the set. The last time I saw him was at Butch Baldassari's World of Mandolin seminar in Nashville, 1994. He chatted with all the folks, picked some tunes and hung out for the afternoon. I will cherish the memory.
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  23. #13

    Default Re: Bill Monroe

    Wow!!! That's an awesome story TD!

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  25. #14
    Registered User T.D.Nydn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bill Monroe

    Like,how do you write an original bluegrass tune nowadays? You almost cant,because he thought up pretty much most of them..

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    Default Re: Bill Monroe

    Met Bill at a festival in Florida one night and asked for his autograph. He looked at my wife and said, "sure, if I can have a kiss from that beautiful lady". Well, we didn't get the autograph.

  27. #16
    Fatally Flawed willkamm's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bill Monroe

    Quote Originally Posted by Denny Gies View Post
    Met Bill at a festival in Florida one night and asked for his autograph. He looked at my wife and said, "sure, if I can have a kiss from that beautiful lady". Well, we didn't get the autograph.
    I can't help but think we could have worked something out.
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  28. #17
    Fatally Flawed willkamm's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bill Monroe

    In relation to James Rooney's book Bossmen where he compares and contrasts the careers of Monroe and Muddy Waters. He points out a parallel between the two men that I once clearly overlooked. He found it to be one of their greatest strengths as bandleaders. That is their ability to allow their sidemen to shine as soloists. There were and are bandleaders that might be intimidated by a well renowned sideman. But both of these guys were comfortable in their own abilities as musicians as well as bandleaders. They realized that allowing talented sidemen to shine could only improve their bands. At least that was Rooney's opinion as well as mine today.
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    Default Re: Bill Monroe

    Awesome tales fellers

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    Default Re: Bill Monroe

    The OP wanted to know what he was like AWAY from his music in real life...Well he must not have been liked by everyone or his Loar would not have got busted up with a fireplace poker, rumors are that he was a "womanizer", I don`t know that for sure though....I never met the man I`m sorry to say...

    I doubt very much that those books would say anything bad about Mr. Bill...I`m sure he was a nice person around the folks at festivals and his shows, after all they are the ones that paid his income...

    Willie

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    Default Re: Bill Monroe

    Smith's book is pretty revealing of Monroe's "offstage" life -- affairs, paternity suit, etc. For that reason, some bluegrass fans didn't like it -- thought there was too much "gossip" and non-musical material.

    I found it interesting in that it gave a more complete picture of Monroe's life -- from Smith's point of view, of course, and he has his own perspective, which others may not share. Clearly Monroe was much more complex than the one dimension of his musical career and creativity, to which Smith gives ample credit.

    For example, given the era and the racial divide in the South, I was interested in how decently he treated the African-American harmonica player Deford Bailey (one of the first featured Opry players, by the way). Bailey toured as part of Monroe's show for a while, and Monroe always made sure he had good food -- even if Monroe had to bring it from a segregated restaurant himself -- and accommodations. And this was a time when "minstrel" blackface comedy acts like Jam-up and Honey were standard parts of country music shows. A side of Monroe I wouldn't have known without Smith's research.

    Smith shows Monroe as a complicated, driven, difficult personality, with ample genius, but also with deep flaws. I will be interested to read the opinions of others who worked closely with him during different parts of his life.
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  33. #21
    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bill Monroe

    The new book by Tom Ewing's been in the pipe line for a while now. I'll buy a copy when (if) it comes out.

    A nice book to read is ''In The Country of Country'' by Nicholas Dawidoff. It's subtitled - 'A journey to the roots of American music'. In it,Dawidoff meets & interviews many well known country music stars.It's well worth reading,
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    Ivan


    PS - Here's a book about a gent.i had the pleasure of playing banjo with many times when he lived over here - Bill Clifton. I knew that it was being wrtitten,but apparently it was published back in 2016. I just ordered my copy.
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    Default Re: Bill Monroe

    I agree with this. I found the stories of his personal life fascinating - they weren't prurient muckraking, but the fleshing out of a complex man, with explanation. In fact, in parts, Smith is too nice.He qualifies and hedges his bets. But, Monroe was a complex guy. He could hold the loyalty of band members he'd sack, almost on a whim, but drive someone to smash 2 mandolins into smithereens. He could call himself a Christian and have a genuine and deep faith. Yet he breaks the 6th (?) commandment regularly. He could write music that changed the world. Yet be so angry he couldn't speak to those who'd wronged him.

    A great man? MOstl probably yes. A simple man ? Heck NO!
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  36. #23
    Fatally Flawed willkamm's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bill Monroe

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie Poole View Post
    The OP wanted to know what he was like AWAY from his music in real life...Well he must not have been liked by everyone or his Loar would not have got busted up with a fireplace poker, rumors are that he was a "womanizer", I don`t know that for sure though....I never met the man I`m sorry to say...

    I doubt very much that those books would say anything bad about Mr. Bill...I`m sure he was a nice person around the folks at festivals and his shows, after all they are the ones that paid his income...

    Willie
    Bill Monroe was very likely a womanizer Willie. Many charismatic men are. He was very likely the "Mick Jagger" of his day, in Nashville, and other areas where his music was popular.
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  37. #24
    Fatally Flawed willkamm's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bill Monroe

    Looking back over the review of Rooney's book, "Bossmen," it leaves out one of Monroe's early and important musical influences. Black Blues Guitarist, Arnold Schultz. "The man that put the Blues into Bluegrass." I noted, that down in Rosine at the Monroe home-site, among the various signs highlighting different facets of Bill's life, there is one paying tribute to Arnold. Thought I took a pic of it, but can't find it. I believe there is only one or two known photographs of Arnold.
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    Registered User Drew Streip's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bill Monroe

    Quote Originally Posted by David Lewis View Post
    He could call himself a Christian and have a genuine and deep faith. Yet he breaks the 6th (?) commandment regularly.
    I hope not!

    (6) You shall not murder.

    Now THAT would be a revealing book. I think we'll have to settle for old #7.

    (7) You shall not commit adultery.

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