Martin, Benny


  • From Sparta, Tennessee.
  • Full name: Benny Edward Martin, Sr.
  • John Hartford called him “The World’s Greatest Unknown Fiddle Player.”
  • 1944, began musical career with Big Jeff and the Radio Playboys.
  • 1946, Milton Estes and His Musical Millers (on the Grand Ole Opry.)
  • 1947, joined Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys.
  • 1947, worked with Roy Acuff.
  • 1952-1954, worked with Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs.
  • 1954, worked with Johnny and Jack.
  • 1955, embarked on a solo career as a vocalist. Signed by Mercury Records. Act was called “Big Tige and the Little Tigers.”
  • 1956, joined the Grand Ole Opry.
  • Had the same manager as Elvis Presley, Col. Tom Parker. He was a frequent opening act for Elvis.
  • Was a close friend and drinking buddy of Hank Williams, Sr.
  • Invented an 8-string fiddle which never caught on. The only other performer to use it professionally was John Hartford.
  • 1976, released Tennessee Jubilee album (Flying Fish), produced by John Hartford.
  • 1997, received an IBMA Distinguised Achievement Award.
  • 1999, released The Big Tiger Roars Again album (OMS) with guests Tom T. Hall, Earl Scruggs, Vince Gill, John Hartford, Ricky Skaggs, Jim & Jesse, Johnny Russell and others.
  • 2001, released Big Tiger Roars Again (Part 2) album (OMS), his last.
  • 2001, died on March 13. Sadly, one of his closest friends, John Hartford, also died the same year.
  • 2005, was inducted into the IBMA’s Hall of Fame.