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Benny Martin

Benny Martin was one of bluegrass music's premiere fiddlers and the inventor of the eight-string fiddle. Born to a musical family in Sparta, Tennessee, he made his debut on a local radio station when he was only eight. He played in a local band for a while and when he was 13 went to Nashville to work with Big Jeff & the Radio Playboys at WLAC. He remained with the group for nearly ten years, and also began working as a session man for Dot Records. Martin also recorded a solo album on the Pioneer label; one of his early singles, "Me and My Fiddle," became his signature song.

Frequently, Martin worked as a sideman for such performers as Bill Monroe, Roy Acuff, Kitty Wells, and Flatt & Scruggs. He founded his own band in 1954 and also briefly joined the Grand Ole Opry. During the mid-'50s he was managed by Col. Tom Parker and opened for Elvis Presley 35 times. This was not a great time to be a country performer, and Martin began doing more session and sideman work than solo recording. In 1963 he had his only chart hit, "Rosebuds and You." In the mid-'60s, he briefly teamed with Don Reno and recorded a gospel album. Martin continued working behind others, performing at festivals and recording frequently on various labels through the early '80s, when his health began failing. Suffering from a condition known as spasmodic dysphonia, Martin remained retired for many years but re-emerged in 1999 with The Big Tiger Roars Again, Pt. 1, a star-studded tribute to the fiddler and his myriad contributions to bluegrass music through the years. The Big Tiger Roars Again, Pt. 2 appeared in 2001; Benny Martin died on March 13 of that year at the age of 72. ~ Sandra Brennan
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: The Fiddle Collection (Special Edition)

1. Muleskinner Blues

2. Sweet Bunch Of Daisies

3. Alabama Jubilee

4. Home Sweet Home

5. Little Footprints In The Sand

6. Georgiana

7. Back Up And Push

8. Flint Hill Special

9. Blue Moon Of Kentucky

10. Bile Em' Cabbage Down

11. Salty Dog

12. The Fiddlers Dream

13. Dueling Fiddles (Feat. Johnny Gimble)

14. Lara's Theme

15. Black Mountain Rag

16. Under The Double Eagle

17. How Will I Explain About You

18. Beautiful Dreamer

19. Foggy Mountain Breakdown

20. Ragtime Annie

21. Fire On The Mountian

22. Bury Me Beneath The Willow

23. Cotten Eyed Joe

24. Sunny Side Of The Mountain

25. Night Train To Memphis

26. Freight Train Blues

27. Cruisin' In The Blue Danubeoo

28. Lee Highway Blues

Comments

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Benny Martin had an unusual sound with his physical ability to use the bow in an unusual way.

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