Über Bill Monroe
As a legendary bandleader, Singer-Songwriter, and an innovative instrumentalist, Bill Monroe is as important to the development of modern country music as Muddy Waters is to the development of rock. He was one of the first to popularize the Bluegrass band paradigm of guitar, acoustic bass, fiddle mandolin, and banjo. Beginning his recording career in 1936, Monroe was a demanding bandleader, who sought out (and was sought out by) the best, most innovative players. Monroe was known for his dazzlingly fast lead mandolin breaks and his bands set a standard for playing, operating much like a small jazz combo; all of the players took plentiful turns soloing between verses and choruses. With banjo legend Earl Scruggs and guitarist Lester Flatt's high lonesome vocals (the best known assemblage), Monroe had a number of hit recordings throughout the '40s and '50s, most notably "Footprints in the Snow" and "Blue Moon of Kentucky." Elvis Presley recorded the latter for Sun Records in 1954. The sound of Monroe's tight, hard-driving band directly influenced the development of Rockabilly (and by extension, Honky-Tonk music). Monroe recorded extensively right up to his death in 1996. He is the subject of many tribute recordings.