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Bill Monroe’s Life May Reach Big Screen

Bill Monroe photo courtesy of

Bill Monroe photo courtesy of

Bill Monroe, widely regarded as the father of bluegrass, may soon get the same sort of movie treatment that’s been given to Johnny Cash and Ray Charles.

Actor Peter Sarsgaard, known for his work in “Jarhead” and the new “Knight And Day,” is in the early stages of development in a film about the late mandolin player, according to The Wrap. Peter is apparently a big fan of Bill, who played a central role in creating and shaping the acoustic genre named after his band, the Blue Grass Boys.

Callie Khouri, who won an Oscar for writing “Thelma And Louise,” is currently rewriting the original script for the project, described as a “low-budget, ‘Walk The Line’-type project.” It’s a creative match that seems particularly appropriate. Callie’s husband is T Bone Burnett, the musical director for both “Walk The Line” and “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” which relied heavily on bluegrass and roots music to tell its story.

Bill, who died in 1996, remains an intensely important figure. A member of both the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, he helped launch the careers of Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs, Jimmy Martin, Mac Wiseman and Del McCoury, among many others. His song “Blue Moon Of Kentucky” was a signature for him and one of the defining Sun Records recordings by Elvis Presley. Another of his songs, “Uncle Pen,” became the first bluegrass recording to top the country singles chart when Ricky Skaggs released a version in 1984.

Ricky recreated some of Bill’s earliest Blue Grass Boys successes with a 2008 album, Honoring The Fathers Of Bluegrass: Tribute To 1946 And 1947. Bill’s also been celebrated with several other tribute projects. Among them are the 2000 release Big Mon: The Songs Of Bill Monroe, featuring Dwight Yoakam, Dolly Parton, Travis Tritt and Steve Wariner. Another CD honoring Bill was the 2003 two-CD project Bill Monroe: The Legend Lives On, offering remakes by Marty Stuart, Charlie Daniels, Ralph Stanley and the Whites.


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