We thought the end of the Bill Monroe Name marathon litagation was over after the Kentucky Court of Appeals recent decision. We thought that Ohio County Industrial Foundation would settle down. We were wrong. The foundation seems to want to keep this ugly battle alive for eternity. It seems that the Ohio County Industrial Foundation has filed a petition with the Kentucky Court of Appeals seeking a rehearing on their earlier decision. It is hoped that the court will deny this petition and put this to rest.
In the decade old battle of the right to use Bill Monroe's name for the Jerusalem Ridge Bluegrass Music Festival, the appeals court in Kentucky ruled last month that the Jerusalem Ridge Bluegrass Music Festival can use "Bill Monroe" in promoting the festival that takes place each year in Rosine, Kentucky near the home place of the father of bluegrass music. This overturned a lower court ruling and was seen as a victory and, hopefully the end, of this nasty litigation.
The use of Monroe's name has become the rope in a power tug-of-war between Mercer and the Ohio County Industrial Foundation in Ohio County, Kentucky, the location of Bill Monroe's homeplace and the Jerusalem Ridge Bluegrass Music Festival. Cybergrass has been covering the ups and downs of this struggle since its early beginnings.
From the rejection of building a Bill Monroe State Park, in the Feasibility of Constructing a State Park at the Birthplace of Bill Monroe, an idea that began in 2003, through other battles, including the attempt to acquire the famed Lloyd Loar mandolin used by Monroe in 2004 which went to trial July 12th of that year.
A dispute arose that stemmed from an agreement between the Mercer's Bill Monroe Foundation and Monroe's son, James Monroe. According to reports, the Bill Monroe Foundation failed to make the complete payment for the mandolin by the agreed upon date and James, who wanteds to sell the prized instrument, considered selling it to the Ohio County Industrial Foundation.
In April, 2001, the Bill Monroe Foundation made an initial down-payment for the instrument and agreed to pay off the $1.1-million price within 18 months. So far, they are short of that amount and have only been able to contribute less than $200,000 towards the contract price. Campbell Mercer, executive director of the Bill Monroe Foundation attempted to get a bank loan to complete the purchase but that process failed in October 2002 and the loan was never granted to the foundation.
By 2004, Bill Monroe's legendary Gibson F-5 Lloyd Loar mandolin remained the center of controversy over its proper ownership and destination. The valuable instrument is regarded by many musicians as the most important instrument in country music. The F-5 is the jewel in the crown of bluegrass music history. The Bill Monroe Foundation had been trying to acquire the mandolin to retain it's heritage along with that of Bluegrass Music's "father", Bill Monroe. The case over it's proper ownership rights headed back for another trial on July 12th at the Davidson County Chancery Court in Nashville, TN. The events that followed regarding Bill's mandolin, the Country Music Hall of Fame and even more litigation would be another story all of itself.
Then, in September 2005, James Monroe's lawsuit to remove his father's name from the non-profit entity chartered to preserve Bill Monroe's home, farm, home town, Uncle Pen's cabin, construct a museum in his honor and preserve and spread his music, the Bill Monroe Foundation. By the following Tuesday, the news of the Mandolin in the CMHF was out. The injunction forcing the removal of "Bill Monroe" was cast.
On Bill's birthday, yet another event began that few knew about. The Ohio County Industrial Foundation, the entity that formed the BMF and the foundation that was working to help James strip the Bill Monroe name from the BMF began depositions in the MERCER vs. OCIF case. This was a sad way for Ohio County, KY to celebrate Bill's birthday. Sadly, nothing the Ohio County Industrial Foundation has been a good thing for the legacy of the Father of Bluegrass Music, Bill Monroe.