• SumoMe

Today is the 100th birthday of American music legend Bill Monroe. He is universally known as the “father of bluegrass,” and has influence reaching even to Johnny Cash said it best, when introducing Bill Monroe:

“The popularity of Bill Monroe and the bluegrass music has remained constant and has been heard throughout the world to become a truly American art form. An accredited literary source called ‘Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Music’ — the first completely new style of folk music in the English language in 500 years.”

The youngest boy of his family, the legend is that Monroe took up the mandolin because his older brothers exercised their seniority and took to playing the family fiddle and guitar, leaving Monroe with the more conspicuous mandolin. Additionally, his brothers made Monroe remove half the strings from his Mandolin when he played with them so he wouldn’t make as much noise!

Little did his brothers know that little Bill Monroe would inspire the likes of Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead, Paul McCartney of the Beatles, John Hartford, and Johnny Cash, and countless others. Anyone who has ever played bluegrass surely knows him, and anyone who has played rock and roll surely knows at least the derivative works of his legacy. Bill Monroe had a hand in the influence of a huge amount of American music, and we will always remember him as one of the most important figures of the 20th Century American music.

For more information on Bill Monroe, listen to NPR’s salute to his work and recognition of his life.