Jimmy Martin

(guitar - 12/1949-6/1951, 7/1952-1954)
Bill and Jimmy, Sep. 65; courtesy of Gene Lowinger. Click for full version.

Born: 8/10/1927    Died: 5/14/2005

As a Blue Grass Boy: 22-year old Jimmy Martin auditioned for Bill Monroe in October of 1949. He was hired and began performing immediately with the Shenandoah Valley Trio, opening shows for the Blue Grass Boys. Around Christmas, Mac Wiseman gave his notice and Jimmy took over as guitarist and lead singer of the Blue Grass Boys. Though he left and returned to the band several times over the next few years, he appeared on most of Monroe's recording sessions between February of 1950 and January of 1954, singing lead on such classics as "Uncle Pen", "Memories of You", "Letter from my Darling", "On and On" and "The Little Girl and the Dreadful Snake".

Recording Sessions: 2/3/1950, 4/8/1950, 10/15/1950, 1/20/1951, 3/29/1951, 7/18/1952, 7/26/1952, 11/28/1953, 1/7/1954, 1/8/1954, 1/14/1954

Before and After: Jimmy had played with Bobby and Sonny Osborne in between stints with the Blue Grass Boys; in November 1954 they recorded together, under the band name the Sunny Mountain Boys. They soon went their separate ways, Bobby and Sonny as the Osborne Brothers, and Jimmy keeping the Sunny Mountain Boys name, which he continues to use today. An especially memorable Sunny Mountain Boys lineup was that of the late 50s, featuring Paul Williams and J.D. Crowe. Martin's best known songs include "Hit Parade of Love", "Ocean of Diamonds", "Rock Hearts", "Sophronie", and his theme song "Sunny Side of the Mountain".

Honors: SPBGMA Preservation Hall of Greats (1986); IBMA Hall of Honor (1995); Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Hall of Fame (1998)

Further Reading: True Adventures with the King of Bluegrass by Tom Piazza is an expanded version of a magazine article describing a visit with Martin. It is available from amazon.com and other retailers.

Links: King of Bluegrass, a film about Martin
Profile by Skip Heller
Interview by Jim Moss, 1999
Interview by Derek Halsey at Swampland.com