Jimmy MartinMarch 06, 2012
(Singer, Songwriter, Guitar)
Given Name: James Henry MartinDate of Birth: August 10, 1927Place of Birth: Sneedville, TennesseeMarried: 1. Barbara Gibson (div), 2. Teresa SutherlandChildren: James H., Jr., Ray Willard, Lisa Sarah, Buddy LeeDate of Death: May 14, 2005 Known as the "King of Bluegrass," Jimmy Martin is likely the most accomplished figure in bluegrass music to never have been made a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Known for his ability to sing a variety of styles from comic novelty numbers to Gospel with conviction, Martin remains a revered figure in his field of traditional Bluegrass.
Growing up poor in the Cumberland Mountain area of East Tennessee, Martin played and sang traditional music from childhood, but became drawn to the sound of Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys as a teenager. He had some early experience on radio around Morristown and Knoxville, but worked as a housepainter until he was 22, when he rode a bus to Nashville.
Jimmy Martin never expected to speak to Bill Monroe, let alone audition for his band, the Blue Grass Boys, when Martin attended a Grand Ole Opry appearance of his hero in 1949. Monroe offered a position more desirable than the house painting that the twenty-two year-old-Martin had been doing; Martin had recently been fired for singing on the job. He worked for Monroe off and on for about four years, cutting close to 50 numbers as a Blue Grass Boy on Decca.
After leaving Monroe, Martin formed a partnership with the Osborne Brothers, singing on the Big Barn Frolic on WJR Detroit and recording for RCA Victor. In 1955, they split up, with Martin taking the band name Sunny Mountain Boys which previously had been more associated with the Osbornes and by 1956 he cut his first solo songs with Decca.
Throughout the 1960’s, the Sunny Mountain Boys experienced personnel changes, including such notable bluegrass innovators as the J.D. Crowe and Doyle Lawson. but Martin continued turning out chart makers and performed regularly on the Louisiana Hayride and the Wheeling Jamboree. Martin recorded many hit singles for the Decca label throughout the sixties and early seventies and became a regular on the festival circuit.
Martin, proclaimed the "King of Bluegrass," was known for the many novelty songs he performed, but also for the more serious material written by himself and his brother-in-law, mandolin player, Paul (Humphrey) Williams, including "Mr. Engineer," "This World Is Not My Home" and "My Walking Shoes." One of the honors of his career was an appearance on the classic Nitty Gritty Dirt Band album "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" with such notables as Doc Watson and Mother Maybelle Carter.
Through the early 1980’s he appeared as a guest on the Opry periodically, but never became a member. Also in the 80’s, he started his own label, King of Bluegrass and repackaged many of his old Decca masters.
20/20 Vision Rock Hearts Night Widow Maker Losin' You (Might Be The Best Thing Yet) I Can’t Quit Cigarettes Sophronie Run Pete Run You Don't Know My Mind There Ain't Nobody Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone Doin' My Time My Walkin' Shoes Tennessee Hold