Blue Moon Of Kentucky (1947) (1954)

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Bill Monroe (born William Smith Monroe September 13, 1911 in Rosine, Kentucky, died September 9, 1996) and the Blue Grass Boys.

Called the Father of Bluegrass, Monroe is credited with developing the style, which takes its name from his band.

At the time when "Blue Moon of Kentucky" was recorded, the Blue Grass Boys included vocalist and guitarist Lester Flatt and banjoist Earl Scruggs, who would later form their own bluegrass band, the Foggy Mountain Boys.

The song, a 3/4 waltz, had become a nationwide hit by 1947 and also became enormously popular with other bluegrass, country, and early rockabilly acts.

"Blue Moon of Kentucky" is Kentucky's official state bluegrass song.

In 2003, CMT ranked it #11 on its 100 Greatest Songs in Country Music.

Written by: Bill Monroe.

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Elvis Presley (born January 8, 1935 in Tupelo, Mississippi, died August 16, 1977 in Memphis, Tennessee.)

Called the King of Rock 'n' Roll, Elvis is generally considered to be the most important, iconic entertainer of the 20th Century. He has sold over one billion records worldwide, more than anyone in record industry history. He has had 150 albums and singles certified gold, platinum and multi-platinum, 149 charting songs in the US, 114 of which were Top 40 hits, 40 of which were Top 10 hits, and 18 #1 hits.

In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked him #3 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

Sam Phillips started the Memphis Recording Service in 1950, specializing in recording black blues musicians and singers such as Joe Hill Louis, B. B. King, Howlin' Wolf, Roscoe Gordon, and Jackie Brenston and the Delta Cats (who had the 1951 hit "Rocket 88" considered the first ever "rock and roll" record.)

Philips started Sun Records in 1952 as a real record label, recording more blues artists, such as Rufus Thomas, Little Junior Parker, Little Milton, and the Prisonaires (a singing group from the Tennessee State Penitentiary.)

Elvis came in to record a demo recording in 1953.  In 1954 Phillips asked him to record a couple of songs that needed a vocal: "It Wouldn't Be the Same Without You" and "I'll Never Stand in Your Way". Nothing happened with those, but Phillips decided to see what Elvis could do. He asked guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black to work with Elvis. Phillips was an easygoing person and let musicians loosen up while he rolled tape. 

In July 1954 they finally came up with something: Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup's "That's All Right" and Bill Monroe's "Blue Moon of Kentucky". Phillips took it to Memphis DJ Dewey Phillips (no relation) to play on his "Red, Hot, and Blue" radio show. Dewey liked it and played it often.

Presley, Moore, and Black went on tour to promote the record. They played the Grand Ole Opry, but were not received well.  They were received well, however, on the Louisiana Hayride show. At that time, Elvis was billed as a country and western performer.

The "That's All Right"/"Blue Moon of Kentucky" single is generally considered the first of what became known as "rockabilly", a combination of Blues and Country together with an uptempo beat.

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That same year, after the release of Presley's version, Bill Monroe rerecorded "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" using a mixture of both his and Elvis' style, starting the song in its original 3/4 arrangement, then launching into an uptempo 4/4 rendition that was even faster than Elvis' version!

My two cents:
"Blue Moon Of Kentucky" is, in my opinion, the great bluegrass song of all time. And not only that, but a great song, period. Any song that can be effortlessly transferred from one genre to another certainly qualifies as being one of the greats!

I remember the first time I heard this song was on a local community radio station (Bill Monroe's 1954 version). I was hooked by the melody, even though I couldn't really understand some of the words. Am I alone in that? Maybe it's because I don't speak bluegrass...

I also remember the first time I heard Elvis' version. At first, I didn't like it because I wasn't used to such a radically different take. But, now, I almost like it even more: the emphatic "blue moon" intro, the excessive tape delay on Elvis' voice, Scotty Moore's energetic a word: classic!

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