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|Born||August 10, 1927|
|Died||May 14, 2005 77) (aged|
|Labels||Decca, Coral, MCA, Gusto|
|Associated acts||Bill Monroe|
James Henry Martin (August 10, 1927 – May 14, 2005) was an American bluegrass musician, known as the "King of Bluegrass".
Bluegrass music is a genre of American roots music that developed in the 1940s in the United States Appalachian region. The genre derives its name from the band Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys. Bluegrass has roots in traditional English, Irish, and Scottish ballads and dance tunes, and by traditional African-American blues and jazz. The Blue Grass Boys played a Mountain Music style that Bill learned in Asheville, North Carolina from bands like Wade Mainer's and other popular acts on radio station WWNC. It was further developed by musicians who played with him, including 5-string banjo player Earl Scruggs and guitarist Lester Flatt. Bluegrass pioneer Bill Monroe characterized the genre as: "Scottish bagpipes and ole-time fiddlin'. It's Methodist and Holiness and Baptist. It's blues and jazz, and it has a high lonesome sound."
Martin was born in Sneedville, Tennessee and was raised in the hard farming life of rural East Tennessee. He grew up near Sneedville, singing in church and with friends from surrounding farms. His mother and stepfather who used to sing gospel were his first influences. When he was in his teens he bought a guitar. Martin told The Big Book of Bluegrass: "I learned the basic chords from an old hillbilly named Reuben Gibson, who lived in the hills around Sneedville, and I taught myself how to play. I heard Lester Flatt and Charlie Monroe both play runs, but I didn't try to top them. I mostly just developed them how I felt, when it came natural for a song."In his teens, he played guitar in a local string band and later appeared on radio with Tex Climer and the Blue Band Coffee Boys.
Sneedville is a town in Hancock County, Tennessee, United States. The population was 1,387 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Hancock County, located in the mountainous northeastern section of the state.
East Tennessee comprises approximately the eastern third of the U.S. state of Tennessee, one of the three Grand Divisions of Tennessee defined in state law. East Tennessee consists of 33 counties, 30 located within the Eastern Time Zone and three counties in the Central Time Zone, namely Bledsoe, Cumberland, and Marion. East Tennessee is entirely located within the Appalachian Mountains, although the landforms range from densely forested 6,000-foot (1,800 m) mountains to broad river valleys. The region contains the major cities of Knoxville, Chattanooga, and Johnson City, Tennessee's third, fourth, and ninth largest cities, respectively.
Lester Raymond Flatt was an American bluegrass guitarist and mandolinist, best known for his collaboration with banjo picker Earl Scruggs in The Foggy Mountain Boys.
In the winter of 1949, Mac Wiseman had just left Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys. Martin, who wanted to apply for the vacant post as guitarist, rode the bus into Nashville. He sneaked in backstage at the Grand Ole Opry. While picking his guitar, he was overheard by Blue Grass Boys" banjo player Rudy Lyle who brought him forward and presented him to Monroe. Martin sang two songs with Monroe and was hired instantly.
Malcolm Bell Wiseman was an American bluegrass singer.
William Smith Monroe was an American mandolinist, singer, and songwriter, who helped to create the style of music known as bluegrass. Because of this, he is commonly referred to as the "Father of Bluegrass".
Nashville is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Tennessee. The city is the county seat of Davidson County and is located on the Cumberland River. The city's population ranks 24th in the U.S. According to 2017 estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, the total consolidated city-county population stood at 691,243. The "balance" population, which excludes semi-independent municipalities within Davidson County, was 667,560 in 2017.
Beginning in 1949 Martin was lead vocalist for Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys". Martin's high voice mixed with Monroe's tenor came to be known as the "high lonesome" sound. His influence radically changed Monroe's music from the fast-paced but smooth style of the "original" 1945 band with Flatt and Scruggs. Martin challenged Monroe to raise the pitch on many of his classics and to write new, "lonesome" songs. This band with Rudy Lyle (banjo) and Charlie Cline (fiddle) was one of the many high points of Monroe's career. Martin's lead was defining in "lonesome" songs such as "Sitting Alone in the Moonlight", "Memories of Mother and Dad" and "I'm Blue, I'm Lonesome".
Rudy R. Lyle was an American bluegrass banjo player, mostly known for being a member of Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys in the period 1949–1954.
Charles "Charlie" Cline, was an American bluegrass fiddler and multi-instrumentalist, known for being the sideman of several legendary bluegrass groups from the 1950s and well into the 1980s.
Martin had a famously high-strung and exuberant personality, and inevitably clashed with Monroe's equally stubborn temperament. He left Monroe and worked briefly with the Osborne Brothers until he formed his own band, "The Sunny Mountain Boys" in 1955. The classic lineup of this band, with J. D. Crowe and "Big" Paul Williams (stage name for Paul Humphrey) defined his "Good 'n Country" style, a commercially oriented, crowd-pleasing bluegrass with simple harmonies, catchy melodies, and a strong rhythm propelled by Martin's effective guitar playing. He credited himself with inventing the "G" run- a guitar lick used widely in the  genre. However, aural evidence from the period before Martin began performing professionally clearly shows Lester Flatt using this run when backing Bill Monroe.
The Osborne Brothers, Sonny Osborne and Bobby Osborne, were an influential and popular bluegrass act during the 1960s and 1970s. They are probably best known for their No. 33 1967 country hit song, "Rocky Top", written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant and named after a Tennessee location.
James Dee Crowe is an American banjo player and bluegrass band leader. He first became known during his four-year stint with Jimmy Martin in the 1950s.
Three important components of Martin's unique sound, besides his cutting tenor voice, were tight trio singing, sometimes a female high-baritone fourth part, and the use of a snare drum in place of mandolin to keep the back-beat.
Among Martin's biggest hits of the 1960s were "Hit Parade of Love", "Sophronie", "Stepping Stones", "Tennessee", and "Widow Maker" (a popular truck driver's song). His instrumentals (with the Sunny Mountain Boys) such as "Theme Time", "Bear Tracks" and "Red Rooster" featured ultra-crisp playing by a series of banjo players including Sam "Porky" Hutchins, J.D. Crowe, Vernon McIntyre Jr. and Bill Emerson, and powered by Martin's guitar runs, set a standard for bluegrass instrumentals that was highly influential.
William Hundley "Bill" Emerson, Jr. is an American five-string banjo player known for being one of the founding members of the original The Country Gentlemen and Emerson & Waldron.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Jimmy Martin's Sunny Mountain Boys included singer and instrumentalist Gloria Belle, who is considered the first female lead singer in bluegrass.She toured Japan with Martin during 1975. In regards to her playing, Martin said jokingly, "She's not very good, but we let her sing with us 'cause we feel sorry for her."
Martin was famous as a dangerously unpredictable but highly entertaining stage presence. He freely acknowledged his problems with drinking and volatile mood swings, which kept him from realizing his lifelong dream of joining the Grand Ole Opry.
He made frequent appearances on the Louisiana Hayride and Wheeling, West Virginia's WWVA Jamboree (renamed Jamboree U.S.A. in the 1960s), as well as the Grand Ole Opry, but was never invited to join the latter. In 1973, he performed on Bill Monroe's Brown County Jamboree.
He performed on the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's 1971 album, Will the Circle Be Unbroken as well as Volume II (1989) and Volume III (2002).
He joined producers Randall Franks and Alan Autry for the In the Heat of the Night (TV Series) cast CD "Christmas Time's A Comin'" performing "Christmas Time's A Comin'" with the cast on the CD released on Sonlite and MGM/UA for one of the most popular Christmas releases of 1991 and 1992 with Southern retailers.
Martin died May 14, 2005, in Nashville, Tennessee, after having been diagnosed with bladder cancer more than a year earlier. He is interred in the Spring Hill Cemetery in Madison, Tennessee. A report of his death in the Toronto Star called him "one of the greatest vocalists in bluegrass".
In 1995, Martin was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor. A documentary on his life, King of Bluegrass: The Life and Times of Jimmy Martin, was released in 2003. Martin is also featured in the documentary film High Lonesome.
Martin's hobby was raccoon hunting with dogs; he featured his hunting dogs on the covers of several LP albums and wrote songs celebrating their prowess. His troubles with the Nashville music industry are memorialized in "The Death of Jimmy Martin", a song by Tom Russell on The Wounded Heart of America album.
|1960||Good 'n Country||—||Decca|
|1962||Country Music Time||—|
|1963||This World Is Not My Home||—|
|1965||Sunny Side of the Mountain||—|
|1966||Good 'n Country Music||—|
|1967||Big and Country Instrumentals||—|
|1969||Free Born Man||—|
|1970||Singing All Day||—|
|1972||I'd Like to Be Sixteen Again||—|
|1974||Fly Me to Frisco||—||MCA|
|1978||Greatest Bluegrass Hits||—||Gusto|
|1980||Will the Circle Be Unbroken||—|
|Me'n Old Pete||—|
|To Mother at Christmas||—|
|First Time Together(with Ralph Stanley)||—|
|1982||One Woman Man||—|
|1958||"Rock Hearts"||14||single only|
|1964||"Widow Maker"||19||Widow Maker|
|1966||"I Can't Quit Cigarettes"||49||Good'n Country Music|
|1973||"Grand Ole Opry Song"||Nitty Gritty Dirt Band||97||Will the Circle Be Unbroken|
Earl Eugene Scruggs was an American musician noted for popularizing a three-finger banjo picking style, now called "Scruggs style," which is a defining characteristic of bluegrass music. His three-finger style of playing was radically different from the traditional way the five-string banjo had previously been played. This new style of playing became popular and elevated the banjo from its previous role as a background rhythm instrument to featured solo status. He popularized the instrument across several genres of music.
The Stanley Brothers were an American bluegrass duo of singer-songwriters and musicians made up of brothers Carter Stanley (1925–1966) and Ralph Stanley (1927–2016). Ralph and Carter performed as The Stanley Brothers with their band, The Clinch Mountain Boys, from 1946 to 1966. Ralph kept the band name when he continued as a solo artist after Carter's death, from 1967 until his own death in 2016.
David Akeman better known as Stringbean, was an American singer-songwriter, musician, comedian, actor and semi-professional baseball player best known for his role as a main cast member on the hit television show, Hee Haw, and as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Akeman was well-known for his "old-fashioned" banjo picking style, careful mix of comedy and music, and his memorable stage wardrobe. Akeman and his wife were murdered by burglars at their rural Tennessee home in 1973.
Benny Edward Martin, was an American bluegrass fiddler who invented the 8-string fiddle. Throughout his musical career he performed with artists such as the Bluegrass Boys, Don Reno, the Smoky Mountain Boys and Flatt and Scruggs, and later performed and recorded with the Stanley Brothers, Jimmy Martin, Johnnie and Jack, and the Stonemans, among others.
The Foggy Mountain Boys were an American bluegrass band. The band was founded by guitarist Lester Flatt and banjo player Earl Scruggs and is viewed by music historians as one of the premier bluegrass groups in the history of the genre. The band was originally formed in 1948 by Flatt, who had been a member of Bill Monroe's bluegrass band. Flatt brought Scruggs with him shortly after leaving Monroe.
Vassar Carlton Clements was a Grammy Award-winning American jazz, swing, and bluegrass fiddler. Clements has been dubbed the Father of Hillbilly Jazz, an improvisational style that blends and borrows from swing, hot jazz, and bluegrass along with roots also in country and other musical traditions.
Will the Circle be Unbroken is the seventh album by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, with collaboration from many famous bluegrass and country-western players, including Roy Acuff, "Mother" Maybelle Carter, Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs, Randy Scruggs, Merle Travis, Pete "Oswald" Kirby, Norman Blake, Jimmy Martin, and others. It also introduced fiddler Vassar Clements to a wider audience.
Traditional bluegrass, as the name implies, emphasizes the traditional elements of bluegrass music, and stands in contrast to progressive bluegrass. Traditional bluegrass musicians play folk songs, tunes with simple traditional chord progressions, and on acoustic instruments of a type that were played by bluegrass pioneer Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys band in the late 1940s. Traditional bands may use their instruments in slightly different ways, for example by using multiple guitars or fiddles in a band.
Doyle Lawson is an American traditional bluegrass and Southern gospel musician. He is best known as an accomplished mandolin player, vocalist, producer, and leader of the 6-man group Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver. Lawson was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame in 2012.
The Great Dobro Sessions is a 1994 country music and bluegrass album featuring an all-star line-up of 10 American resonator guitar players, produced by dobro players Jerry Douglas and Tut Taylor.
The Bailey Brothers and the Happy Valley Boys were an American bluegrass act widely considered to be among the first to cultivate the duo harmony vocal technique widely used in modern bluegrass music today. Charlie Bailey began his musical career in 1936. His brother, Danny Bailey, teamed up with him in 1940, and the brothers began making frequent appearances on Tennessee radio stations in the Knoxville area. Danny formed the Happy Valley Boys after Charlie joined the military in 1941. In 1944 the Happy Valley Boys relocated to Nashville, where they became members of the Grand Ole Opry, and also made regular appearances on WSM radio in Nashville. At that time, Danny was the youngest person to ever perform on the Grand Ole Opry. When Charlie returned from his military service in 1946 the brothers were reunited as a duo but only stayed in Nashville briefly before returning to radio work in Knoxville.
The Lonesome Pine Fiddlers were an early bluegrass band which included such notable "first generation" bluegrass musicians as Ezra Cline, Bobby Osborne, Paul Williams, Melvin Goins, Charlie Cline, Curly Ray Cline, Larry Richardson and for a short time Jimmy Martin. The Lonesome Pine Fiddlers were inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Association Hall of Fame in 2009.
Robert Russell "Chubby" Wise was an American bluegrass fiddler.
Benjamin Horace Williams was an American bluegrass musician. A multi-instrumentalist, he sang and played fiddle, guitar, banjo, autoharp, and mandolin.
Gloria Belle (Flickinger) is a bluegrass vocalist and instrumentalist, playing the banjo, bass, and mandolin. She was probably the first female lead singer in bluegrass, having begun her music career as early as 1957.