Jimmy Martin’s brash, cocky, “in your face” style endeared him to many and alienated others, but no one could dispute his talent as a bluegrass lead singer and rhythm guitar player. Martin’s timing was the backbone of his Sunny Mountain Boys. Born and reared in Tennessee, he worked for Smokey Ward at WPFB in Middletown, early in his career. Jimmy sang lead in Smokey’s Corny Four Quartet; their version of “Who’ll Sing For Me” was even better than the version Jimmy recorded later on. He introduced banjo legend J.D. Crowe, barely a teenager, at the time he was working in Middletown. Jimmy was lead singer for The Blue Grass Boys during several tours of duty over four pivotal years in Bill Monroe’s career in the early 1950s. He worked and recorded on King with Bob Osborne, and on RCA with the Osborne Brothers, before forming his own band in 1955 and securing a contract with Decca Records. He had several Billboard chart records, the highest charting being “Rock Hearts” at #14. He was a member of the WWVA Jamboree and the KWKH Louisiana Hayride, and in 1995 was elected to the IBMA Bluegrass Hall of Fame.

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