Biography
Benny Martin was one of bluegrass music's premiere fiddlers and the inventor of the eight-string fiddle. Born to a musical family in Sparta, Tennessee, he made his debut on a local radio station when he was only eight. He played in a local band for a while and when he was 13 went to Nashville to work with Big Jeff the Radio Playboys at WLAC. He remained with the group for nearly ten years, and also began working as a session man for Dot Records. Martin also recorded a solo album on the Pioneer label; one of his early singles, "Me and My Fiddle," became his signature song.

Frequently, Martin worked as a sideman for such performers as Bill Monroe, Roy Acuff, Kitty Wells, and Flatt Scruggs. He founded his own band in 1954 and also briefly joined the Grand Ole Opry. During the mid-'50s he was managed by Col. Tom Parker and opened for Elvis Presley 35 times. This was not a great time to be a country performer, and Martin began doing more session and sideman work than solo recording. In 1963 he had his only chart hit, "Rosebuds and You." In the mid-'60s, he briefly teamed with Don Reno and recorded a gospel album. Martin continued working behind others, performing at festivals and recording frequently on various labels through the early '80s, when his health began failing. Suffering from a condition known as spasmodic dysphonia, Martin remained retired for many years but re-emerged in 1999 with The Big Tiger Roars Again, Pt. 1, a star-studded tribute to the fiddler and his myriad contributions to bluegrass music through the years. The Big Tiger Roars Again, Pt. 2 appeared in 2001; Benny Martin died on March 13 of that year at the age of 72. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi




 
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