Name at birth: William Smith Monroe
Bill Monroe was a Kentucky mandolin player and songwriter whose influence on country music earned him the nickname "The Father of Bluegrass." Monroe was the youngest child in a family of amateur musicians. His parents died when he was a boy, and Bill went to live with his uncle, Pendleton Vandiver, an accomplished fiddler. Under the tutelage of "Uncle Pen" and black blues musician Arnold Schulz, Monroe learned country music and the world of performing. With older brothers Charlie and Birch, Monroe moved to Indiana in 1929. During the early 1930s Monroe performed on the radio with his brothers (Birch dropped out in 1934). Eventually Bill went his own way, formed a band called The Kentuckians and landed a job on the radio in Atlanta, Georgia. In 1939 he auditioned for the Grand Ole Opry and was signed to a contract; The Kentuckians became the Bluegrass Boys, an ever-changing line-up that included many future stars, including Earl Scruggs and Lester Flatt. Although Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys didn't produce hit records, they had steady sales and toured regularly. In the 1960s they found a new audience at folk music festivals, and since then Monroe has been considered one of the giants of country music. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1970, was made a member of the Nashville Songwriters' Association in 1971 and was recognized by the United States Senate in 1986 for his contribution to American culture. His most famous songs include "Blue Moon of Kentucky," "Scotland" and "When The Golden Leaves Begin To Fall."
In 1951 Monroe bought a parcel of land in Brown County, Indiana called Bean Blossom. He established a park there and began annual bluegrass music festivals, which continue to this day… Monroe learned to play the mandolin because nobody else in his family played it… Birch Monroe played fiddle, Charlie Monroe played guitar.