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William Smith Monroe, 13 September 1911, on a farm near Rosine, Ohio County, Kentucky, USA, d. 9 September 1996, Springfield, Tennessee, USA. The Monroes were a musical family; his father, known affectionately as Buck, was a noted step-dancer, his mother played fiddle, accordion and harmonica, and was respected locally as a singer of old-time songs. Among the siblings, elder brothers Harry and Birch Monroe both played fiddle, and brother Charlie Monroe and sister Bertha played guitar. They were all influenced by their uncle, Pendleton Vanderver, who was a fiddler of considerable talent, and noted for his playing at local events. (Monroe later immortalized him in one of his best-known numbers, Uncle Pen, with tribute lines such as Late in the evening about sundown; high on the hill above the town, Uncle Pen played the fiddle, oh, how it would ring. You can hear it talk, you can hear it sing).
At the age of nine, Monroe...