There is no individual as synonymous with an American music genre as Bill Monroe, the Father of Bluegrass. Recognized for his dynamic mandolin playing and high tenor singing, Monroe along with his band, the Blue Grass Boys, rejuvenated the older country sound and brought the mandolin to the forefront of country, pop and rock music. After losing both of his parents by the age of sixteen Monroe moved with two of his brothers to Chicago where he worked in an oil refinery while also performing as a square dancer on WLS National Barn Dance while singing and playing mandolin on local radio. Bill and his brother, Charlie went on to form the duo, Monroe Brothers. They performed on stations in Iowa and Nebraska before moving to the Carolinas in 1935; ultimately breaking up in 1938. Monroe and his new band, the Blue Grass Boys, auditioned for and were hired by the Grand Ole Opry in October 1939. Monroe received a number of awards and recognitions throughout his music career. He was elected into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1970 and received the Heritage award in 1982 from the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1988 his album, Southern Flavor, won a Grammy - the first ever for bluegrass. Monroe was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Association Hall of Honor in 1991 and was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences in 1993.

The headstock face-plate to the 1923 F-5 "Lloyd Loar" mandolin sold framed with a Music City News, Nashville, Tennesse, November 1980 newspaper recounting the story of Monroe's infamous mandolin.
face-plate height 7 in., frame height 14 in. width 10½ in.

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Laura E. Armstrong
Laura E. Armstrong

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Lot Essay

To show his disappointment with the repair work Gibson had performed on his mandolin in 1963 Monroe angrily gouged the pearl-inlay logo from his beloved F-5 Lloyd Loar. Monroe famously continued playing on his defaced mandolin for another 17 years before permitting Gibson a second go at the instrument, replacing the face-plate with the name Gibson and a custom truss rod cover engraved Bill Monroe.

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