On September 26, the University of Illinois Press will publish the late Marty Godbey's book "Crowe on the Banjo: The Music Life of J.D. Crowe." The book charts the life and career of this celebrated banjoist and Bluegrass innovator from Lexington, KY. The book ordering information is now on the University of Illinois Press catalog web page. The volume is 272 pages including 25 black & white photographs. The book is "A musical biography of one of bluegrass's true pioneers." This is just another addition to the University's Music in American Life series which has included works on the National Barn Dance, Bluegrass legend Hazel Dickens, Bluegrass Odyssey, Bill Monroe, WSM and others who were either a part of bluegrass, influenced by bluegrass or the roots of the genre.
In this first biography of legendary banjoist J. D. Crowe, Marty Godbey charts the life and career of one of bluegrass's most important innovators. Born and raised in Lexington, Kentucky, Crowe picked up the banjo when he was thirteen years old, inspired by a Flatt & Scruggs performance at the Kentucky Barn Dance. Godbey relates the long, distinguished career that followed, as Crowe performed and recorded both solo and as part of such varied ensembles as Jimmy Martin's Sunny Mountain Boys, the all-acoustic Kentucky Mountain Boys, and the revolutionary New South, who created an adventurously eclectic brand of bluegrass by merging rock and country music influences with traditional forms. Over the decades, this highly influential group launched the careers of many other fresh talents such as Keith Whitley, Ricky Skaggs, Tony Rice, Jerry Douglas, and Doyle Lawson.
With a selective discography and drawing from more than twenty interviews with Crowe and dozens more with the players who know him best, Crowe on the Banjo: The Music Life of J. D. Crowe is the definitive music biography of a true bluegrass original.
"This book is a major service to J. D. worshipers (like myself!). Thanks, Marty, we will miss you."--Béla Fleck, Grammy-winning banjoist
"For fans and historians, a book on the music and influence of J. D. Crowe was long overdue, and Marty Godbey's Crowe on the Banjo fits the bill wonderfully. This account puts Crowe's importance into clear perspective. The highs and lows of the Lexington bluegrass bar scene are brought to life by someone who obviously had a good seat at the front table while hearing great music played over the din of clinking bottles."--Bob Artis, third-generation mandolinist and member of the Allegheny Drifters
"A stimulating and informative narrative of the life and work of J. D. Crowe, a seminal figure in the development of latter-day bluegrass music. Marty Godbey admirably pinpoints the importance of Crowe's influences as a banjo player and band leader and how his sound has become the standard for a sizeable segment of the bluegrass music industry."--Alan Munde, bluegrass banjoist and leader of the Alan Munde Gazette
A prolific writer and photographer, the late Marty Godbey published extensively on history, architecture, food, travel, and bluegrass music. She lived in Lexington, Kentucky, where she watched J. D. Crowe play locally for more than 40 years.