Clifton, Bill


  • 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.
  • He has been called the first “citybilly” in bluegrass music.
  • 1952, formed his first band, The Dixie Mountain Boys. Played the Wheeling (WV) Jamboree for several years.
  • He was backed by the Country Gentlemen on many of his recordings.
  • Although he performed bluegrass music throughout his career, he preferred being known as a folk singer, thus getting more exposure and appealing 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 a historic one-day bluegrass event on July 4th that brought together most of the nation’s top acts which drew more than 2000 and inspired Carlton Haney (who was there) to organize the first three-day bluegrass music 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.”
  • He was a close friend of A.P. Carter.
  • He was a member of the Peace Corps and traveled extensively.
  • 1973, began touring and recording with mandolinist Red Rector.
  • 1992, he received an IBMA Distinguished Achievement Award for his lifelong contributions to bluegrass music.
  • 2001, he inducted the Carter Family into the IBMA’s Hall of Fame.
  • 2008, he was inducted into the IBMA’s Hall of Fame.