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Bill Monroe (born William Smith Monroe, September 13, 1911 â€“ September 9, 1996) developed the style of country music known as bluegrass, which takes its name from his band, the "Blue Grass Boys," named for his home state of Kentucky. Monroe's performing career spanned 60 years as a singer, instrumentalist, composer and bandleader. He is often referred to as "the father of bluegrass."
Monroe was born in Rosine, Kentucky. His father was a well-to-do farmer while his mother, nÃ©e Malissa Vandiver, was from lower down the social scale. Malissa and her brother, Pendleton "Pen" Vandiver, were both musically inclined, and Bill Monroe learned old-time music from his uncle who was an itinerant fiddler. Thirty years later, Monroe wrote a song ("Uncle Pen") in honor of him and the music.
Monroe's professional career began in the 1930s when he and his older brothers, Birch and Charlie, began performing as a trio, the Monroe Brothers, at a radio station in South Bend, Indiana near Hammond, Indiana where they worked in an oil refinery. Birch left the music scene early on in the Monroes' caree...