The grammarian in me finds it unbelievably difficult to refer to the legendary bluegrass family dynasty as “The Stonemans” – I keep wanting to say “The Stonemen.” Surely, I’m not the only person who wrestles with this conundrum?
Image of The Stoneman Family courtesy of Discogs
Ernest “Pop” Stoneman‘s musical career goes all the way back to the 1920s, and he would later form a group that comprised, at least by the mid-1960s, five of his thirteen children. The Stonemans (sigh) – as Amazon’s editorial review points out – would “hit the country charts often but are now strangely forgotten.” Apparently, they were not considered a singles band, as very few 45s appear to have been released over the course of their recording career.
1968 album, All in the Family, for instance, would reach #42 on the country chart, although one winsome, bittersweet tune – Jack Clement‘s “Tell It To My Heart Sometime” – would be passed over for single release, sadly:
That same year, The Stoneman Family would be one of the featured artists in the 1967 feature film, Road to Nashville — Donna Stoneman nearly runs away with the movie in her spirited performance on an unnamed “surf bluegrass” instrumental whose title proves to be rather elusive:
The Stonemans [Unknown] Instrumental 1967
The All Music Guide to Country has these interesting biographical details about Ernest Stoneman and his musical progeny:
“His [early solo] career reached its peak in 1927, when he became the top country artist at Victor and led the Bristol sessions, which helped The Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers gain renown. Stoneman continued to record through 1929 setting down more than 200 songs…
“At the end of the 1940s, he and his talented clan began performing as The Stoneman Family. By 1956 he had earned the moniker “Pop” and appeared on the NBC television game show The Big Surprise, where he won $10,000. Later, his children’s band, The Blue Grass Champs, became The Stonemans, which Pop himself joined after retiring from the [munitions] plant in the late 50s. He continued appearing with them and singing lead vocals through the early 60s. In 1965, The Stonemans signed with MGM in Nashville and hosted a syndicated TV show. In 1967, Stoneman’s health began to deteriorate, but he continued recording and performing through the Spring of 1968; he died in June.”