Credited as writer or co-writer of more than 90 songs and instrumentals, including many bluegrass standards such as:

  • “Bear Tracks”
  • “Hit Parade Of Love”
  • “Hold Whatcha Got”
  • “Last Song”
  • “Losing You (Might Be the Best Thing Yet)”
  • “My Walking Shoes”
  • “Prayer Bells of Heaven”
  • “Run Pete Run”
  • “She’s Left Me Again”
  • “Stormy Waters”
  • “Tennessee”

Early Influences

  • Roy Acuff
  • Bill Monroe

Came to Fame With

  • Bill Monroe & the Blue Grass Boys

Performed With

  • Tex Climer and the Blue Band Coffee Boys, Morristown, TN, 1949
  • Bill Monroe & the Blue Grass Boys, 1949-1951, 1952-1954
  • Lonesome Pine Fiddlers, 1951
  • Jimmy Martin & the Osborne Brothers, 1953-1955
  • Jimmy Martin & the Sunny Mountain Boys, 1955-2005

By the Way

  • Kept a stable of coon-dogs, most named after country music stars.
  • Received a “Distinguished Citizenship Award” for pulling a mother and three children from a burning car in Nashville, 1964.
  • Designed his own tombstone, six feet tall, and had it installed six years before his death at Spring Hill Cemetery, Madison, Tennessee.

Led the Way

  • Sang and recorded memorable duets with Bill Monroe that led to the description of bluegrass music as the “high lonesome sound.”
  • Built enthusiastic audiences for bluegrass from radio and concert appearances in Detroit, Michigan; Shreveport, Louisiana; and Wheeling, West Virginia.
  • Pioneered the propulsive “Good ‘n Country” beat, in which a snare drum accentuates the mandolin rhythm.
  • One of the first bluegrass bandleaders to include a female voice in harmony arrangements.
  • Placed six songs in the Billboard top-100 country charts between 1958 and 1973.
  • Appeared with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band on all three of the Will the Circle Be Unbroken recording projects: 1972, 1989, and 2002.
  • Bluegrass Hall of Fame, 1995

From the Archives

From the Archives: Jimmy Martin and Road Manager Mark Goydos in front of the bus, Widow Maker, Source unknown.

From the Archives: Paul Williams, J.D. Crowe, and Jimmy Martin and Zeb Collins in 1958 at the WWVA Package Show in Ottawa Auditorium at Lansdowne Park in Ottawa Ontario, Canada.. Photo by Ron Petronko.

“I love bluegrass. It’s the only kind of music I ever will love. When I sing those songs it hits me deep, and when I’m at the microphone I give it all I’ve got. I want to see bluegrass stay up so bad, and do something for it however I can.”
Quoted in The Big Book of Bluegrass, 1984.
“He didn’t have sense enough to tone it down – thank God… When he hits the stage, it’s like cannons going off… I think he’s uncontrollable. He dared to be different, and he’s paid the price for it.”
Marty Stuart, quoted in Edward Morris, “‘King of Bluegrass’ Jimmy Martin Dead at 77,” CMT.com, May 14, 2005.
“I was paintin’ machinery in a factory in Morristown, Tennessee, and I was playin’ on WCPK from 4:30 to 5:00 every evening. I got fired on my job for singin’ too much, and I cussed out the foreman for firin’ me. When I went back after my clothes, I seen him on the street, and told him, ‘Listen in on Saturday night, ’cause I’m singin’ with Bill Monroe on the Grand Ole Opry.'”
Interview with Wayne Winkler, “Jimmy Martin: Too Wild for the Grand Ole Opry,” Now & Then, East Tennessee State University, fall, 2008.