The Grand Ole Opry With Bill Monroe
I first met Bill Monroe
in June of 1953 when he (along with Jimmy Martin, Charlie
Cline and L.E. White) appeared at the Barbeque Barn near
Florence, South Carolina. I was playing with Slim Mims and
The Dream Ranch Boys on WJMX at the time. We opened the show
for Bill Monroe and The Bluegrass Boys that night. Bill
needed bass player for his show and I filled in for him.
Before the evening was over, he had offered me a job with
his band. We met the next weekend at the Pick Theater in Mt.
Airy, North Carolina where he had a show. Monroe gave me 15
minutes on his show to perform a comedy act. It was my debut
as the comedian, Uncle Puny. After that, Monroe and I
started to do two-man comedy routines together in addition
to my playing the bass as a regular part of his shows. We
put on shows at a lot of schools and traveled quite a bit.
Times on the road got really bad, and I left Monroe in the
winter of 1953, worked awhile with Slim Mims then went back
with Monroe in 1954. In 1957, I played the guitar on 9 of
the 12 songs on Monroe's first LP "Knee Deep in Bluegrass".
My name on the LP was incorrectly listed as Lester Sandy
instead of Leslie Sandy. Don Stover, Dale Potter, Gordon
Terry, Tommy Jackson and Joe Stuartare are also on the same
have many memories of the times I shared as one of The
Bluegrass Boys. One is the time I visited Monroe's old home
place in Rosine where I met his brothers, Charlie, John and
Birch. All in all, I did three stints with Bill Monroe.
Over the years, I guess I became one of the "lost Bluegrass
Boys". Thanks to Walt Saunders, Tom Ewing (writers for BU)
and Russell Palmer of Gulf, North Carolina I became "found"
again through their inquiries, research and articles in BU.
not have any photographs of the times with Bill Monroe.
Times were hard back then and I could not afford a camera
and film. However I do still have one special memento - the
Nashville Union Card (Kind of worn with age now) that
admitted me to appear on The Grand Ole Opry.
did I know then that Bill Monroe would later become known as
The Father of Bluegrass. It was an honor and a privilege to
have been one of The Bluegrass Boys and to have appeared
with Bill Monroe on the Grand Ole Opry.