Paul Hawthorne's Web Site

Bill Monroe's Banjo Players

Bill Monroe had a lot of banjo players over the years, some for a long time, some for one show only, a few not very good, most excellent. Bill ran a school for musicians for over 50 years. It happened to be called The Bluegrass Boys.

Any time someone has the opportunity to be close to the master of a discipline, there is a school available. Whether or not that person chooses to learn what or how much of what the master has to offer, or chooses to pay the price he demands openly or covertly is separate. The considerable skills the band members had when they got to the door were the entrance exam, just like it is necessary to graduate from college before entering graduate school. Monroe knew he was a natural teacher. One example is that he reportedly told Peter Rowan on meeting him, "You need to come to Nashville. I can he'p you."

Two other long running schools like this are the Clinch Mt. Boys (Ralph Stanley) and the Sunny Mt. Boys (Jimmy Martin).

This is a fairly complete list, and would not be so without the information generously sent to me by former Bluegrass Boys, their friends and people who were there at shows. I welcome any corrections and additions.

I also remember a list of players to date in a copy of Banjo Newsletter or Pickin' in the mid 70's. I have not been able to locate it. If anyone can forward that information to me I would appreciate it and integrate it into this list.

I do not include times when former band members played in on stage reunions with Monroe, like the one with Reno at Stanley's McClure Festival in '75.

One-timers/fill-ins include:

Dates still uncertain/ unconfirmed for:

Up to 87 banjoists known so far.......

See also Stewart Evan's Blue Grass Boys site for another listing of Monroe musicians, including other instruments.

I welcome corrections or enhancements to the existing listings here.

Previously in this note, I mentioned that I would not make any changes to this page. I have changed my mind. As long as I can autenticate the information, I will add it. I will mark such changes by making the player's name bold green.

Paul was very passionate about this list. It is one of the last pages he updated before he died.


Last Updated 19 Jan 2018 by WF

Last Updated 26 Nov 2006 by PJH

Edited 07 Apr 2007 by WF