Composed and arranged songs that are now standards in bluegrass, including:

  • “Down Where The Still Waters Flow”
  • “I Am Weary (Let Me Rest)” – used in the soundtrack of the movie O Brother Where Art Thou
  • “Journey’s End”
  • “No Blind Ones There”
  • “Out On The Ocean”
  • “Remembrance Of You”
  • “Rollin’ Stone”

Early Influences

  • Donnie Bryant
  • Smitty Irvin
  • Don Owens

Came to Fame With

  • Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine

Performed With

  • Log Cabin Boys, Washington, D.C., mid-fifties
  • Benny & Vallie Cain & the Country Clan, mid-fifties
  • The Country Gentlemen, 1958-1959
  • Red Allen, Frank Wakefield & the Kentuckians, 1962

By the Way

  • His mother was from Brown County, Indiana, so Pete probably knew where Bean Blossom was before Bill Monroe did.
  • Played Flatt & Scruggs’ 1949 recording of “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” for high school classmate Warren Beatty, who later used it in the 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde.
  • Won the banjo contest at the National Country Music Contest, Warrenton, Virginia, 1956.
  • Sang tenor to John Duffey on the Country Gentlemen’s “The Church Back Home” (1958).
  • Taught Eddie Adcock to sing baritone parts with the Country Gentlemen (1959).
  • Helped entertainment lawyers to establish that the 1958 monster hit “Tom Dooley” had a provenance older than the Kingston Trio.
  • Recorded blues masters – including Mississippi John Hurt – and got their songs copyrighted.

Led the Way

  • One of the founders of Bluegrass Unlimited magazine in 1966, and editor since 1970.
  • An important figure in developing the career of the Country Gentlemen as an early member, recording engineer, source of song material, artistic and business advisor.
  • Published bluegrass and blues songs as a partner in Wynwood Music Company.
  • Played a leading role in making Washington, D.C., the most prominent center for bluegrass music from the late 1950s through the 1970s.
  • Instrumental in the formation of the International Bluegrass Music Association (1985) and International Bluegrass Music Museum (1991).
  • Bluegrass Hall of Fame, 1996.

From the Archives

From the Archives: Pete Kuykendall, Ralph Stanley and Renfro Profitt at the Berkshire Mountains Festival, NY (late 1970's). Photo by Ron Petronko.

Kuykendall is as integral a part of the success of bluegrass music over the past five decades as any one person you are likely to find. He has been a performer, a songwriter, a magazine and music publisher, an event promoter, a disc jockey, a record producer, booking agent, and one of the best baritone singers you won’t hear (If you hear the baritone singer, he’s probably doing it wrong!). Moreover, his endeavors have all met with a very high level of success.
Steve Spence is a former managing editor of Bluegrass Unlimited. He lives in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia.
“Pete used to constantly urge John Duffey to take advantage of opportunities to promote their band, the Country Gentlemen. Pete grew frustrated, calling Duffey ‘Booger Mule’ for his stubbornness. Even after John was in the new band, the Seldom Scene, Pete would try to help John, usually getting nowhere. I thought Pete had gone crazy, expecting to make a profit out of a starving non-profit magazine. He proved me wrong."
Tom Gray, former member of the Country Gentlemen and Seldom Scene, 2009.
“He was determined to take his passion for bluegrass and make it his life, which he did. He didn’t really want to travel in a band, having a young family, but he wanted to stay as close to the music as he could. What better way than to take a newsletter and turn it into a full-scale magazine?”
Ginger "Sam" Kuykendall Allred, daughter, 2009.