25 Years Ago: Bill Monroe Is Inducted Into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Twenty-five years ago today (May 15, 1997) was a significant day for the family of Bill Monroe: It was on that date that the bluegrass founder was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, less than one year after his death.
Monroe credited his uncle, Pendleton Vandiver, with fostering his love of the fiddle and mandolin; Monroe often accompanied Vandiver when he played the fiddle at dances, showing an early proficiency and deep love of music.
By the time Monroe was 18, he had formed a group called the Monroe Brothers, soon earning the attention of record labels. Monroe recorded several songs for various labels, including 60 tracks for Bluebird Records, but it wasn't until 1938 that Monroe formed the Blue Grass Boys. The group focused more on the fast tempos of the stringed instruments, which was a trademark for what became known as bluegrass music.
In 1945, Earl Scruggs joined the Blue Grass Boys, which by then also included Lester Flatt; the lineup later became known as the Original Bluegrass Band. Although both Scruggs and Flatt left the group three years later to form their own Foggy Mountain Boys, Monroe continued to forge ahead, becoming a pioneer for the changing sound of music.
In addition to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Monroe was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame, making him one of only a handful of artists, including Jimmie Rodgers, Bob Wills, Hank Williams and Johnny Cash, who have been inducted into all three. He was also a member of the Grand Ole Opry and received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and the National Medal of Arts.
In addition to Monroe, 1997's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees included Mahalia Jackson, the Bee Gees, the Jackson 5, Joni Mitchell and Buffalo Springfield.