In January 1954, almost a year to the day after a devastating auto accident near White House, Tennessee, in which he suffered multiple injuries, bluegrass legend and Grand Ole Opry star Bill Monroe returned to the recording studio to cut a dozen tracks for his next Decca Records project. One of those was a traditional tune called “White House Blues,” a tune about the 1901 assassination of President William McKinley, popularized in the mid-1920’s by banjo player Charlie Poole and the North Carolina Ramblers. Nearly three decades after Monroe’s recording – featuring breakneck banjo by Rudy Lyle and (in Monroe’s words) a “hot chorus” of the bandleader’s mandolin – Monroe would have his own White House-related experiences, one rather humorous and the other much more serious.
As the Father of Bluegrass Music, Bill Monroe was often recognized for his essential role in popularizing the American art form. With banjo player Earl Scruggs’ December 1945 Opry appearance with the band, which already included guitarist Lester Flatt, bassist Cedric Rainwater and fiddle player Chubby Wise, Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys would become one of the most important, influential musical acts of all time. As such, and especially later in his life, Monroe was recognized with induction into the Country Music, Bluegrass and Rock and Roll Halls of Fame as well as dozens of other honors. No stranger to the White House in
Thirty-five years ago, on this date in 1983,
On their way out of Washington,