Cliffie Stone Family Photos
L to R: Governor Jimmy Davis, Bill Monroe (Father of Bluegrass), Loretta Lynn and Cliffie at a Country Music Hall of Fame museum event in 1992. Governor Jimmy Davis’ mini-bio caption can be found in Row 1, #5 photo. Bill Monroe was called “The Father of Bluegrass,” which was solidified in 1991 when he was the inaugural inductee into the “International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor” as the ‘Father of Bluegrass.’ To sum up Bill Monroe’s bluegrass genre career, here’s a quote by author/editor, Rick Marschall, from the “Encyclopedia of Country/Western Music: “All of a sudden, America had a new music. It had evolved, yes, and its roots were easily traceable. But Bill Monroe’s (Blue Grass Boys) were playing something new. It was driven, intense music. It exploded with brilliant solos. It was an integrated ensemble of string instruments that had never actually been combined heretofore. The singing was bluesy, the instrumentation was jazzy, and the name was Blue Grass. The development of bluegrass was logical, but its synthesis was by no means inevitable; it took Bill Monroe’s taste and vision to bring it into being.” Bio highlights: James and Malissa Monroe’s youngest child, William Smith Monroe, was born on their farm near Rosine, Kentucky on September 13, 1911. He first started singing in various churches in Rosine and while he was plowing the fields for his dad. By the time he was ten, he had learned to play the mandolin and he’d join his family as they sang and played songs; he’d also accompany his brothers, Birch (fiddler) and Charlie (guitar) when they played at local dances with their Uncle Pen. At the age of sixteen, Bill became an orphan after both of his parents died. Since his older siblings had moved away, Bill ended up living with his Uncle Pen who was a talented popular fiddler and he’d back up Uncle Pen at his local gigs. Bill was exposed to his Uncle Pen’s massive repertoire of Appalachian folk songs, which seeped into his subconscious and soul. Through his Uncle Pen, he met a country/blues musician, Arnold Shultz and became exposed to the blues genre, which also had a tremendous influence on Bill. Bill credits both of them for their music influences, especially his Uncle Pen for teaching him his impeccable rhythm and timing. (In later years, Bill would record an album titled “Bill Monroe’s Uncle Pen” which has many traditional folk tunes that were in his uncle’s repertoire as well as one of Bill’s famous self-penned songs, “Uncle Pen.”)  When Bill turned eighteen, he joined his brothers, Birch and Charlie, in Chicago; they put together a band and played at local dances, which eventually garnered them performances on the Barn Dance on Chicago’s radio station WLS. This led to their appearance in a square dance revue on the “WLS Jamboree” in 1932. Birch left the band in 1934, but Charlie and Bill continued on as the “Monroe Brothers” and became a successful duet act. They were sponsored by ‘Texas Crystals’ which led to various radio gigs in Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska and the Carolinas. In 1936, they signed with RCA’s ‘Bluebird Records” division and recorded a gospel song, “What Would You Give in Exchange for Your Soul,” which became a minor hit; from 1936 through 1938, they recorded sixty tracks for Bluebird. The brothers broke up as a team in 1938 and each of them formed their own bands. In 1939, Bill went to Atlanta, GA and formed his “Blue Grass Boys” band, which consisted of Cleo Davis (singer/guitarist), Art Wooten (fiddler), Amos Garren (bassist) and some of the radio shows they appeared on included “Crossroad Rollies.” Then Bill and his Blue Grass Boys went to Nashville and in October 1939, they auditioned for the Grand Ole Opry and after their first dynamic performance of “Mule Skinner Blues” on the Opry, they became regular cast members, which was a boon to their career because the Opry show was broadcast on Nashville’s 50,000 watt radio station WSM; they also toured with the Grand Ole Opry’s road shows. The Blue Grass Boys band revolved around Bill who was the driving force who set the beat and rhythm as well as capturing the audience’s ear with his high tenor voice during their vocal harmonies. In 1940, he recorded his first solo session for RCA and his new band members consisted of Clyde Moody (singer/guitarist), Tommy Magness (fiddler) and Bill Westbrooks (bassist). In 1944, Bill’s band members changed again and for the next four years, Bill and his Blue Grass Boys would be in their heyday years; they became the classic example of a 5-piece acoustic stringed group with Bill playing mandolin/vocals, Earl Scruggs playing his unique 3-finger banjo style, Chubby Wise playing fiddle, Howard Watts (aka Cedric Rainwater) playing bass and Lester Flatts playing guitar/vocals, wherein they cemented the bluegrass genre brand. These extremely skillful musicians would take turns in instrumental solos during a tune – many times improvising like jazz musicians do. The other instrument they used was their voices. They would sing distinctive three or four-part harmonies which involved ‘stacking’ vocal arrangements. A baritone voice at the bottom, a tenor at the top and in between is the middle voice, which sings the main melody. Bill Monroe sang tenor and was known for his ‘high lonesome’ vocal sound. Bill signed with Columbia Records and he returned to the recording studio in 1945 with his foregoing mentioned elite musicians who would accompany him. In 1946, Bill and his Blue Grass Boys had their first Top Ten charted song, which peaked at #3; their next singles release was “Footprints in the Snow,” which peaked at #5. From 1944 through 1948, they would become one of the most popular acts in country music as they toured throughout the United States drawing huge audiences, while continuing to have five more Top 20 charted singles. Because of their popular new bluegrass sound, other acts began to emerge with a similar bluegrass sound, such as the Stanley Brothers. In 1948, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs left Bill’s band and formed their own band which they called “The Foggy Mountain Boys,” which, years later, got them into the Country Music Hall of Fame. There are other websites that give more detailed bio and discography info on Bill Monroe. Bill and his talented but ever changing band members would perform their bluegrass music consistently for decades at venues and festivals all over the country. Speaking of festivals, in 1951, Bill purchased a park in Bean Blossom, Indiana and opened a country music park venue, which featured many bluegrass acts down through the years. In 1967, he founded an annual bluegrass festival at his park called the “Bill Monroe Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival.” Bill’s bluegrass music inspired musicians and artists all over the world to carry the bluegrass mantel, which include many top Nashville musicians and artists such as Rose Maddox, Dolly Parton, Ricky Skaggs, Vince Gill, Allison Kraus and Emmylou Harris. Throughout the years, Bill wrote countless bluegrass songs, but his most famous self-penned song was “Blue Moon of Kentucky,” which has been recorded numerous times by bluegrass artists as well as country artists such as Patsy Cline and rock artists such as Elvis Presley and Paul McCartney; and in 1971, he was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Association’s International Hall of Fame. Other prestigious awards include: the “Country Music Hall of Fame” in 1970; a Grammy Award for “Lifetime Achievement” in 1993; the “National Medal of Arts,” which was presented to him at the White House by President Bill Clinton in 1995. In 1997, he was inducted into the “Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame” as an “early influence of rock ‘n’ roll.” In 2003, Bill Monroe was ranked #16 on CMT’s “40 Greatest Men of Country Music.” In 2005, Bill posthumously became a recipient of the ACM’s “Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award. I highly recommend Bill’s unique, delightful and one-of-a-kind website,  Loretta Lynn  was called, “The First Lady of Country Music.” Quotes from Cliffie’s songwriting book:  “As far as I can remember, Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton, were among the first women to pioneer the trend of female singers writing and singing their own songs. The songs that Loretta wrote and sang were a country-flavored version of the women’s movement before it came to be. The wonderful movie of her life, “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” is a country classic.” To learn about Loretta’s life and career in her own words, one needs to look no further than the song she wrote and recorded, “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” which was released in 1970; in the verses, she describes her poverty childhood and living in a cabin in Butcher Holler in rural Kentucky and how her father’s coal miner’s salary had to support his wife and eight children; however, she recalls that there was no shortage of love in the Webb family, which was their main value. For an in depth view of her life, her marriage to Mooney Lynn, and her hectic demanding career in her own words, I recommend that you read her autobiographical book, “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” that she co-wrote with George Vecsey in 1976, which became a New York Times Bestseller. Her autobiography spawned a motion picture, “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” which was released in 1980. It starred Sissy Spacek as Loretta and Tommy Lee Jones as her husband, Mooney, which received seven Oscar nominations wherein Sissy Spacek received an Academy Award Oscar for her portrayal of Loretta. The songs that Loretta wrote were firsthand experiences that she had growing up in poverty, motherhood and her marriage to the late Mooney Lynn. To reiterate what Cliffie said in his quote: “The songs that Loretta wrote and sang were a country-flavored version of the women’s movement before it came to be.” The titles of some of her 160 penned songs speak for themselves: “Don’t Come Home A’ Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind),” “Fist City,” “The Pill,” “One’s on the Way,” “Honky Tonk Girl,” “You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man),” “Rated ‘X’,” “Dear Uncle Sam,” and the list goes on. In 2008, Loretta was inducted into the “Songwriters International Associations Hall of Fame.” Loretta has had ten #1 hit country albums, sixteen #1 hit songs as a solo artist (many of which she wrote herself). She also had eighteen duet #1 hits with Ernest Tubb (such as “Mr. and Mrs. Used To Be”) and Conway Twitty (such as “After the Fire is Gone,” which won them a Grammy award). And let’s not forget to mention her talented legendary producer, Owen Bradley, who was her music mentor at Decca Records. Patsy Cline also gave Loretta advice and they became best friends; Patsy believed in Loretta’s talent because, at that point in time, there were just a couple of country women singers who had become stars in country music, which was a male-dominated industry. It was Ernest Tubb who introduced Loretta on the Grand Ole Opry in 1960 and she proudly became a loyal cast member. The prestigious awards that Loretta has received are too numerous to list; however, some of them include: Four Grammy Awards; seven American Music Awards; eight BMI awards; twelve Academy of Country Music Awards (ACM); eight Country Music Association (CMA) awards. In 1972, the CMA named her the “Entertainer of the Year;” the ACM honored Loretta with the “Artist of the Decade” award for the 1970s; Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1999; Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1977; ACM’s “Pioneer Award” in 1994; the CMA’s Country Music Hall of Fame in 1988; and in 2010, the Grammy “Lifetime Achievement Award” for 50 years in country music. Along with her autobiography and motion picture biography, there are websites that give more detailed info about her personal life, career and discography. I also highly recommend that you visit her eloquent website:

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