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Birch Monroe
Born:  May 16, 1901
Died:  May 15, 1982
America's Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame (2002)
Brown County Jamboree
WWAE Hammond, IN

About The Artist

Birch Monroe was the older and lesser known of the Monroe Brothers — Bill and Charlie — who gained fame both as a duet act, and in individual careers. All hailed from a large family in the village of Rosine, in Ohio, County, Kentucky. As they grew up, Birch as the oldest chose the fiddle and Charlie the guitar. Bill as the youngest was left with the mandolin, but ultimately achieved more fame than the others.

With the decline of farming and the death of their parents, the brothers sought cash paying jobs in Hammond, Indiana for Sinclair and Standard Oil.

The brothers also played music from time to time at such small radio stations as WWAE Hammond and WJKS in Gary. Birch and Charlie played first in 1927, and Bill joined somewhat later. The brothers also were skilled square dancers and often worked in National Barn Dance units as they toured the Midwest, probably longing for full time musical jobs at WLS.

Promo Ad - City Ball Park - Madisonville, KY - Bill Monroe - Lew Childre - String Bean - Birch Monroe - Lester Flatt - July 1945
Promo Ad - Tent Theater - City Ball Park - Linden, AL - Bill Monroe - Bluegrass Boys - Tommy Thompson - Lester Flatt - Chubby Wise - Earl Scruggs - Birch Monroe - Cedric Rainwater - September 1946

When such opportunity came, Birch chose to remain at his regular job, supporting their sisters, while Bill and Charlie began full-time musical careers in late April 1934, first at KFNF Shenandoah, Iowa and then at WAAW Omaha, Nebraska. Initially working for Texas Crystals, they soon took on announcer Byron Parker, who was better as a salesman, while Bill and Charlie furnished the music (Parker also sang bass when needed). Then in August 1935 their sponsor sent them to WFBC Greenville, South Carolina.

Thereafter, Birch Monroe's musical work was confined to short stints of working with either Bill or Charlie, singing bass or sometimes playing a bit of fiddle. He recorded with both brothers at different times. Birch also spent several years in charge—beginning in April 1952—of Bill's country music park in Bean Blossom in Brown County, Indiana.

He also fiddled for a Saturday night square dance.

Promo Ad - Big Hillbilly Jamboree - Crockett Junior High School - Odessa, TX - Birch Monroe - Ed Mayfield - Larry Richardson - Bill Myrick - Mayfield Brothers - April 1953
Promo Ad - Brown County Jamboree - Student Union Auditorium - Terre Haute, IN - Birch Monroe - Harry Weger - String Bean - Lazy Jim Day - Unk Ramsey - March 1953

About 1976, he recorded an album of old-time fiddle tunes, Brother Birch Monroe Plays Old Time Fiddle Favorites (Atteiram API 1516). More of an old-time than a bluegrass fiddler, he died five years later. He was buried in Rosine with the other Monroes.

Credits & Sources

  • Hillbilly-Music.com would like to express its thanks to Ivan M. Tribe, author of Mountaineer Jamboree — Country Music in West Virginia and other books that can be found on Amazon.com and numerous articles in other publications for providingus with information about this artist.
  • To Come Here; September 12, 1946; Greensboro Watchman; Greensboro, AL
  • Jamboree To Feature Blue Grass Boys; November 3, 1950; Brown County Democrat; Nashville, IN

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