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BILL CLIFTON

  • Native of Baltimore (Lutherville), Maryland. Lives in Mendota, Virginia.
  • Real name: William Marburg. Changed his name in 1950 to avoid embarrassing his family.
  • One of bluegrass music’s true “international” stars. His albums have been released by record companies in the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, Japan, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany, South Africa, France, Australia and New Zealand.
  • Called the first “citybilly” in bluegrass music.
  • 1952, formed his first band, The Dixie Mountain Boys. Played the Wheeling (WV) Jamboree for several years.
  • Was backed by the Country Gentlemen on many of his recordings.
  • Played bluegrass without a doubt but always preferred being known as a folk singer. By embracing folk music, he got more exposure and appealed to a wider audience.
  • His early recordings were on the Starday and Mercury labels.
  • 1959, worked as a stock broker on the New York Stock Exchange.
  • 1961, organized the first bluegrass festival-like event. A one-day affair on July 4th that brought together most of the nation’s top acts, except for Flatt and Scruggs (who would not appear on the same stage as Bill Monroe.) It drew 2200 people, and inspired Carlton Haney (who was there) to organize the first three-day festival a few years later.
  • Was one of the organizers of the Newport Folk Festival, giving birth to the revival of folk music in the 1960’s.
  • 1963, visited England and liked it so much that he stayed for 15 years. He appeared regularly on the BBC. His program was called “Cellar Full of Folk.”
  • Did much to promote bluegrass and folk music in Europe and in other countries.
  • Was a close friend of A.P. Carter.
  • Was a member of the Peace Corps and traveled extensively.
  • 1973, began touring and recording with mandolinist Red Rector.
  • 1992, received an IBMA Certificate of Merit (Distinguished Achievement Award) for his lifelong contributions to bluegrass music.
  • 2001, gave speech inducting the Carter Family into the IBMA’s Hall of Fame.
  • 2008, was inducted into the IBMA’s Hall of Fame.

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