Saturday, May 14, 2005

king of bluegrass: rest in peace

the undisputed King of Bluegrass, Jimmy Martin, passed away this morning. Please send cards and letters of support to his children-Jimmy Jr., Ray, Lisa, and Buddy at the following address: PO Box 646 - Hermitage, TN 37076

As a youngster in Sneedville, TN, Jimmy Martin was completely fascinated by the sounds of the weekly radio broadcast of WSM's Grand Ole Opry, the pinnacle institution in country music for musicians of his generation. When he was five years old, he made his first guitar out of a Prince Albert cigar can because Prince Albert was a sponsor of the Grand Ole Opry. At the age of 21, Martin was fired for singing on the job in a factory in Morristown, TN. He then boarded a bus to Nashville to catch a show at the Grand Ole Opry. Following the show he talked his way backstage and approached his idol, bluegrass pioneer, Bill Monroe. There, he convinced Monroe to sing a couple of songs with him. Monroe hired him on the spot. During his tenure with Monroe, Martin helped change the sound of bluegrass music. His aggressive rhythm guitar added a fierce drive to his mentor's music and Martin's strong, high vocal range pushed Monroe's tenor up into the sky, creating what has become known as the 'high lonesome' sound. Martin then went on to have a successful solo career as Jimmy Martin & the Sunny Mountain Boys, cutting 136 sides and a number of hits for Decca Records. He became a cast member of the KWKH Louisiana Hayride and then the WWVA Wheeling Jamboree in West Virginia. Both the Hayride and the Jamboree were considered stepping-stones to Opry membership, but while Martin did a few guest spots on the Opry, he was never made a member. Martin is likely the most accomplished figure in bluegrass music to never have been made a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

Check out the wonderful documentary about Jimmy, King of Bluegrass: The Life and Times of Jimmy Martin

Jimmy Martin & the Sunny Mountain Boys - Don't Cry To Me
Jimmy Martin & the Sunny Mountain Boys - Who'll Sing For Me
Jimmy Martin & the Sunny Mountain Boys - When the Savior Reached Down for Me
Jimmy Martin & the Sunny Mountain Boys - The Last Song
Jimmy Martin & the Sunny Mountain Boys - Lord, I'm Coming Home
Jimmy Martin & the Sunny Mountain Boys - There Ain't Nobody Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone


At 3:46 AM, Blogger Kristie said...

Thanks for sharing this sad news.

At 9:26 PM, Blogger guanoboy said...

thanks...gonna link this, if'n you don't mind...:)


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