Bluegrass Music is more often recognized by its driving, syncopated banjo sound than by the mandolin or voice of Bill Monroe. But Monroe was the author of it all. With the addition, in 1945, of Earl Scruggs on banjo, Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys had achieved what came to be recognized as the classic bluegrass style. At the same time that Nashville (Cashville!) was undergoing its first wave of cross-over modernization by denying its rural roots, Bill Monroe was making compelling "new" traditional music from those roots, and proud of it. He was elected to the Country Music Hall Of Fame in 1970. Our photo was taken in 1973 at McCabe's Guitar Shop in Santa Monica, as he tuned up for a performance. He was a very serious man. We followed him around 4 or 5 hours that night to see if he could smile. He probably could, but he didn't. He trod his own musical path, never bowing to commercial pressure, and that dedication resulted in a style of music that will gladden the hearts and tap the toes of bluegrass fans forever. Bill Monroe died in 1996.
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