Hooked on Bluegrass

George Ireton

In 1964 my family fell on hard times. My Dad had a heart attack. I was a freshman in High School. We ate waaay to many sandwhiches made from welfare peanut butter that year. Mom collected Blue Chip Trading Stamps with every tank of gas. It was 23 cents a gallon then. The stamp books were just enough to redeem for my first "real" guitar that Christmas. The strings stood about an inch above the fret board on that plywood masterpiece.

I spent the following summer listening to the Beatles on my 9-volt transistor radio, trying to play like them and other groups who appeared at the Newport Folk Festival....Peter, Paul & Mary, The Smothers Brothers, and The Kingston Trio were "happening" while The Rolling Stones recorded "I Can’t Get No Satisfaction". I soaked it all in.

During the following years, Flatt & Scruggs recorded The Ballad of Jed Clampett, and Foggy Mountain Breakdown was all over the radio as the theme from Bonnie & Clyde. Hooked on Bluegrass. Oh yeah baby!

Right after High School I formed my first Bluegrass band called Prohibition 69’. The banjo player had a 1928 Franklin classic car, and we cruised up and down Euclid Ave. in Ontario, CA., playing Foggy Mountain Breakdown till we gagged on it! Later that year we were booked on a U.S.O. tour to play for the troops in the Far East. I went down to the local music store "George’s Gyp Joint" and gave $600 (out the door) for a new Martin D-35. It is worth just a few bucks more than that now. Wish I still had it!

Much water has passed under the bridge since then. But, I have always been grateful for all my pals in Bluegrass! Give it all ya’ got boys. We are all just passing through.

(posted 9/23/2006)

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