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Thread: Was Bill Monroe The First?

  1. #26
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    Default Re: Was Bill Monroe The First?

    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 !

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    Default Re: Was Bill Monroe The First?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandoplumb View Post
    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
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    Default Re: Was Bill Monroe The First?

    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 ?,
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    Default Re: Was Bill Monroe The First?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ivan Kelsall View Post
    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.
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    Default Re: Was Bill Monroe The First?

    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.
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    Default Re: Was Bill Monroe The First?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gunter View Post
    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.

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    Default Re: Was Bill Monroe The First?

    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.
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  13. #33
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    Default Re: Was Bill Monroe The First?

    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!
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    Default Re: Was Bill Monroe The First?

    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.

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    Default Re: Was Bill Monroe The First?

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    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).
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    Default Re: Was Bill Monroe The First?

    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,
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    Default Re: Was Bill Monroe The First?

    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.

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    Default Re: Was Bill Monroe The First?

    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.
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    Default Re: Was Bill Monroe The First?

    Quote Originally Posted by mandopops View Post
    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!

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    Default Re: Was Bill Monroe The First?

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    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.
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    Default Re: Was Bill Monroe The First?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    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.

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    Default Re: Was Bill Monroe The First?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fretbear View Post
    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.

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    Default Re: Was Bill Monroe The First?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ivan Kelsall View Post
    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 ?,
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    More than a hint? Both are blues in the key of A, and that's about all.

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    Default Re: Was Bill Monroe The First?

    Quote Originally Posted by ralph johansson View Post
    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.

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    Default Re: Was Bill Monroe The First?

    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,
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    Default Re: Was Bill Monroe The First?

    Quote Originally Posted by mandopops View Post
    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.
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    Default Re: Was Bill Monroe The First?

    Quote Originally Posted by ralph johansson View Post
    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...
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    Default Re: Was Bill Monroe The First?

    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.
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    Default Re: Was Bill Monroe The First?

    Quote Originally Posted by mandopops View Post
    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.

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    Joe B mandopops's Avatar
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    Default Re: Was Bill Monroe The First?

    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
    A Splendid Time is Guaranteed for All

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