One of the giants of 20th-century music, Kentucky-born Bill Monroe was the undisputed creator of bluegrass. His mandolin-picking and plaintive tenor are among the genre's most moving and distinctive sounds. His band, the Bluegrass Boys, provided the launching pad for innumerable bluegrass careers, graduating such luminaries as Flatt and Scruggs, Reno and Smiley, and Peter Rowan. Though his period of greatest popularity was the '40s and '50s, Monroe was a tireless performer who continued to play live into the '90s, even after treatment for cancer and a double bypass operation. By the time of his death in 1996, he had been crowned several times over as the king of bluegrass and proved a seminal inspiration to several generations of musicians.
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