Pendleton Vandiver, recognize that name? He was Uncle Pen to Bill Monroe, considered the Father of Bluegrass. His influence in Bill Monroe's life gave the legendary songwriter a bank of memories to draw from and share with the world. Even if country music is not your "cup of tea," Bluegrass is a part of our heritage, brought to the Appalachian mountain region from our Scotch/Irish ancestors. For 50 years Bill Monroe influenced the music industry. His well-known song "Blue Moon of Kentucky" has been covered not only by bluegrass but also rock and country artists like Elvis Presley, Paul McCartney, and Patsy Cline.
James Pendleton Vandiver (1869–1932)"He was uncle to musician Bill Monroe, who immortalized him in a song, Uncle Pen. Monroe used to hear his uncle playing fiddle on the hilltop where he lived, while Monroe put away his mules at night. He later said that Vandiver was "the fellow that I learned how to play from." Vandiver played fiddle at local square dances and social events, his nephew backed him up, playing mandolin. Monroe's parents had both died by the time he was 16, he lived part of the time with his Uncle Pen in his two-room hilltop house in Rosine, Kentucky. Bill Monroe's biographer, Richard D. Smith writes, "Pen gave Bill more: a repertoire of tunes that sank into Bill's aurally trained memory and a sense of rhythm that seeped into his bones. Sometimes Bill played guitar behind his uncle, sometimes the mandolin. On September 13, 1973, a monument in honor of Uncle Pen was unveiled by Monroe at the Rosine Cemetery."