Scott Hollifield: Want to own Bill Monroe's back brace? Not so fast

By Lee Paxton/Fair use,

By Lee Paxton/Fair use,

For sale: Bill Monroe.

Well, sort of. The Father of Bluegrass still lies peacefully beneath the marble in Rosine, Kentucky where they lowered him down in 1996. But today, the rights to his name, his likeness and quite a bit more can be yours if the price is right. To those who are not old school, true believers in bluegrass music and its pureness of heart, this is not earth-shattering news. But to those who cling to the old ways, it as if the tablets held by Moses himself were up for grabs on QVC.

According to a number of media reports, someone can own just about everything Bill-related except what lies beneath the marble.

“In addition to the name and likeness offering, fans can also purchase the rights to the website,” Lorri Hollabough writes on, adding that the buyer will own the band name “Blue Grass Boys,” which could prove to be profitable at either music festivals or legal marijuana dispensaries.

Plus, up for sale is “a treasure trove of Monroe memorabilia and personal items, many of which have never been available and will likely never be available to the public again. Included among the items are over 1,800 personal and business checks, including some written to Earl Scruggs, Ralph Stanley, and Johnny Paycheck, knives and watches owned by Monroe, his back brace, social security card, ATM card and gas cards, Christmas cards, thousands of his personal papers and collectibles, suits, coats, shoes, ties, and even his Last Will and Testament.”

While no prices are mentioned, interested parties are encouraged to contact the “exclusive agent for the Bill Monroe Estate” to work out a deal.

As a close personal friend of Bill Monroe – I saw him in the early 1990s at a show in Cherokee, North Carolina where we bonded at the subsequent meet-and-greet at the merchandise table – I must object to the sale. All of that stuff is mine – mine, I tell you!

If I was not testifying under oath before the Senate Intelligence Committee, here is how I would describe my meeting with Bill Monroe on that fateful day.

“Hello, Bill. That was a wonderful set. I don’t think you’ve ever done a better rendition of ‘Uncle Pen.’”

“Well, thank you, Scott. I’m glad I had the opportunity to come out here today and perform for all these fine people. I’d also like to say how much I enjoy your funny tales and such in a handful of small and mid-sized newspapers across the Southeast. Here we are in the early 1990s and I don’t reckon I could ever see a day when folks stop buying newspapers. ”

“Nope. Me neither, Bill. The future is bright.”

“I do see a day though, when I pass on from these earthly shores and join so many other Blue Grass Boys in the great by and by. And since you and I have bonded so closely today over the merchandise table here in beautiful Cherokee, I’ve decided to leave my legacy to you, my name, likeness, website domain -- whatever that is – my favorite back brace, a knife, a watch and this here gas card. Just let me fill up the bus one more time and it’s yours.”

“No, Bill. You’ve got a while yet, traveling the highways and byways of this great land, writing personal and business checks and bringing joy to all the people who love your music.”

“I do reckon I have a ways to go, but when I pass on, all that stuff goes to you. Don’t let none of them fancy estate agents snooker you out of what is rightfully yours, boy.”

“No sir, I surely won’t.”

And that’s exactly how it went. So all that stuff is mine, as long as I don’t have to testify to it under oath before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Scott Hollifield is editor/GM of The McDowell News in Marion, NC and a humor columnist. Contact him at