25 March 2021

Benny Martin, 1928-2001

Saturday 13 March was the twentieth anniversary of the death of Benjamin Edward 'Benny' Martin of Tennessee, one of the most influential of bluegrass fiddlers. He began playing on stage and radio before he was 10, and in his late teens composed and recorded 'Me and my fiddle' (which Irish audiences will have heard performed by Joost van Es of 4 Wheel Drive). He subsequently played with Bill Monroe, Roy Acuff, Johnnie & Jack, Kitty Wells, Don Reno, and Flatt & Scruggs, before becoming a Grand Ole Opry member as a solo artist.

Like his friend Scotty Stoneman, he suffered from alcoholism, which may have contributed to the health problems of his later life. Much more detail is in Gary Reid's biographical article for the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame, into which Benny was inducted in 2005 - the third fiddler to have been inducted in his own right, after Chubby Wise (1998) and Kenny Baker (1999).

© Richard Hawkins



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