BMI’s database credits Kenny Baker with 82 published tunes (some are co-compositions), including:

  • “Baker’s Breakdown”
  • “Big Sandy River”
  • “Doc Harris The Fisherman”
  • “Farmyard Swing”
  • “First Day In Town”
  • “Frost On The Pumpkin
  • “High Country”
  • “Washington County”
  • “Windy City Rag”

Early Influences

  • Thaddeus Earl Baker (father)
  • Richard Baker (grandfather)
  • Marion Sumner
  • Stéphane Grappelli
  • Bob Wills
  • Chubby Wise

Came to Fame With

  • Bill Monroe & the Blue Grass Boys

Performed With

  • Don Gibson, 1953-1957
  • Bill Monroe & the Blue Grass Boys, 1957-1958, 1962-1963, 1968-1984
  • Josh Graves and Kenny Baker, 1984-2006
  • The Masters, 1989-1997

By the Way

  • Recorded sessions with Hobo Jack Adkins (1950?), Estill Stewart and the 7 Flat Mountain Boys (1954), Red Rector and Fred Smith (1969), Jimmy Martin (1971), the Down Homers (the Whites, 1972), Bill Clifton (1974), Charlie McCoy (1975), Tom T. Hall (1976), the Osborne Brothers (1978), Wayne Lewis (1980), Dry Branch Fire Squad (1981), Ron Mesing (1990), Mac Wiseman (1990), Mark O’Connor (1993), and Carroll Best (2001).
  • Although he moved close to Nashville in 1968, Kenny Baker always lived in country settings and engaged in farming and animal husbandry.
  • Son Johnny Baker played guitar and sang tenor with the Dry Branch Fire Squad in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.
  • Other famous Kenny Bakers include a singer/actor who appeared on Jack Benny’s radio show in the 1930s, a British jazz trumpeter of the 1940s, and the diminutive British actor who played R2D2 in the Star Wars film series.

Led the Way

  • Played longer than anyone else with Bill Monroe & the Blue Grass Boys, at the heart of one of the band’s best-remembered sounds.
  • A mentor to many well-known fiddlers, including James Bryan, Blaine Sprouse, and Aubrey Haynie.
  • National Heritage Award,1993.
  • Bluegrass Hall of Fame, 1999.

From the Archives

From the Archives: Danny Jones, Joe Stuart, Kenny Baker and Bill Monroe. Photo by Ron Petronko.

From the Archives: Byron Berline and Kenny Baker. Photo by Ron Petronko.

From the Archives: Kenny Baker getting his fiddle out of the fiddle case outside. undated. Source unknown.

“I’ve never heard a fiddler I couldn’t learn something from.”
Quoted by Joe Wilson in liner notes to Kenny Baker: Master Fiddler, County Records, 1993.
“Bluegrass, of all the styles of music, is the most difficult – to get in every note you hear, the time and syncopation. Bluegrass is countryman’s jazz. It’s not mechanical, but heartfelt, and there’s really no written music to get you started.”
Quoted by Maria Gajda in “Kenny Baker: Country Jazz Fiddler,” Muleskinner News, October, 1972.
“Ornery and irascible, cheerful and charming, demanding musically yet frequently found jamming all night with sleepy, mediocre musicians, stubborn and bullheaded, witty and warm, Kenny Baker, like bluegrass music itself, is complex, contradictory, and deep.”
Doug Green in liner notes to Kenny Baker plays Bill Monroe, County Records, 1976.