Composed

BMI’s database credits Benny E. Martin with 134 published compositions, co-compositions, and arrangements including:

  • “Me and My Fiddle”
  • “Ice Cold Love”
  • “Two O’Clock”

Early Influences

  • Jimmie Rodgers
  • The Carter Family
  • Clayton McMichen

Came to Fame With

  • Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys

Performed With

  • Wally Fowler and the Oak Ridge Boys, 1944 – 1945
  • Big Jeff and the Radio Playboys, 1945 – 1946
  • Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys, 1947 – 1948
  • Roy Acuff and the Smoky Mountain Boys, 1949 – 1951
  • Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys, 1952 – 1954
  • Johnnie & Jack and the Tennessee Mountain Boys, 1954 – 1955
  • As a solo and with the Benny Martin Band, 1955 – 1961
  • Don Reno, Benny Martin and the Tennessee Cut-Ups, 1965
  • Pat Boone, 1973 – 1974
  • Lester Flatt and the Nashville Grass, 1977

By the Way

  • Was childhood friends with bluegrass legend Lester Flatt.
  • Used to skip school so he could play his fiddle but was usually located by the local truant officer who followed the sound of his music.
  • Hitchhiked to Knoxville, Tennessee, as a young teen to appear on WNOX’s Mid-Day Merry-Go-Round.
  • Was nicknamed “Big Tiger” by Hank Williams.
  • Appeared as an opening act for Elvis Presley on 50 show dates in 1955 and 1956.
  • Successfully sued Dolly Parton for plagiarizing the melody of his signature song “Me and My Fiddle” in her 1980s hit song “Nine to Five.”

Led the Way

  • Is recognized as one of the premier fiddlers from the golden age of bluegrass and country music, with a flamboyant and dynamic approach that captivated millions.
  • Performed and/or recorded with a number of seminal first-generation bands including Bill Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs, the Stanley Brothers, and Don Reno as well as country legend Roy Acuff, and the duo of Johnnie & Jack.
  • Invented the 8-string fiddle.
  • Enjoyed a successful solo career in country music and recorded for a variety of labels including MGM, Mercury, RCA, Decca, Starday, and CMH. “Rosebuds and You” (1963) and “Soldier’s Prayer in Viet Nam” (1966, with Don Reno) made the country music charts.
  • Was an accomplished songwriter who had his songs recorded by Kitty Wells, Roy Acuff, and others.
  • International Bluegrass Music Association Distinguished Achievement Award, 1997.
  • Bluegrass Hall of Fame, 2005

Composed

BMI’s database credits Benny E. Martin with 134 published compositions, co-compositions, and arrangements including:

  • “Me and My Fiddle”
  • “Ice Cold Love”
  • “Two O’Clock”

Early Influences

  • Jimmie Rodgers
  • The Carter Family
  • Clayton McMichen

Came to Fame With

  • Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys

Performed With

  • Wally Fowler and the Oak Ridge Boys, 1944 – 1945
  • Big Jeff and the Radio Playboys, 1945 – 1946
  • Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys, 1947 – 1948
  • Roy Acuff and the Smoky Mountain Boys, 1949 – 1951
  • Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys, 1952 – 1954
  • Johnnie & Jack and the Tennessee Mountain Boys, 1954 – 1955
  • As a solo and with the Benny Martin Band, 1955 – 1961
  • Don Reno, Benny Martin and the Tennessee Cut-Ups, 1965
  • Pat Boone, 1973 – 1974
  • Lester Flatt and the Nashville Grass, 1977

By the Way

  • Was childhood friends with bluegrass legend Lester Flatt.
  • Used to skip school so he could play his fiddle but was usually located by the local truant officer who followed the sound of his music.
  • Hitchhiked to Knoxville, Tennessee, as a young teen to appear on WNOX’s Mid-Day Merry-Go-Round.
  • Was nicknamed “Big Tiger” by Hank Williams.
  • Appeared as an opening act for Elvis Presley on 50 show dates in 1955 and 1956.
  • Successfully sued Dolly Parton for plagiarizing the melody of his signature song “Me and My Fiddle” in her 1980s hit song “Nine to Five.”

Led the Way

  • Is recognized as one of the premier fiddlers from the golden age of bluegrass and country music, with a flamboyant and dynamic approach that captivated millions.
  • Performed and/or recorded with a number of seminal first-generation bands including Bill Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs, the Stanley Brothers, and Don Reno as well as country legend Roy Acuff, and the duo of Johnnie & Jack.
  • Invented the 8-string fiddle.
  • Enjoyed a successful solo career in country music and recorded for a variety of labels including MGM, Mercury, RCA, Decca, Starday, and CMH. “Rosebuds and You” (1963) and “Soldier’s Prayer in Viet Nam” (1966, with Don Reno) made the country music charts.
  • Was an accomplished songwriter who had his songs recorded by Kitty Wells, Roy Acuff, and others.
  • International Bluegrass Music Association Distinguished Achievement Award, 1997.
  • Bluegrass Hall of Fame, 2005

From the Archives

From the Archives: Foggy Mountain Boys getting ready for Radio Broadcast. Donated by Bill Morrison.

From the Archives: Everett Lilly, Benny Cain, Benny Martin. undated. Donated by Benny Cain.

“In Knoxville, I slept in cars or the bus station; basically anywhere I could find. I was just a kid, and I was scared to death, but also happy to be playing music and on my own.”
Benny Martin, in liner notes to The “Big Tiger” Roars Again, Part 1, OMS 25010, 1999.
“When Benny Martin is right there is no one better for driving bluegrass fiddle or delicate backup work.”
Frank J. Godbey, record review, Bluegrass Unlimited, February, 1980.
“I first heard Benny Martin with Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs in the early fifties and his playing opened up a whole new world to me of how the fiddle should go… [He] played these lush beautiful chords and slides that just hugged and danced and got up all around me and before the music was over I was bouncing off the walls."
John Hartford, “Benny Martin: The Genius of Music City, USA,” Fiddler Magazine, Fall 1999
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