Ricky Skaggs On Bill Monroe, His Musical Roots & New Country

Ricky Skaggs on Bill Monroe and his Musical Influences

With 12 #1 hit country singles, 14 GRAMMY Awards and tons of other accolades, Ricky Skaggs is a country and bluegrass legend. He will be receiving some other well deserved honors this month as well. On October 26th, he will be inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame {along with Garth Brooks and the late Jerry Reed} and then on October 31st, Skaggs will be honored with the prestigious ASCAP Founders Award {previous recipients include George Strait, Alan Jackson, Emmylou Harris, Tom Petty and more}. Locally, you can also catch him in concert at the Carolina Theatre, in Greensboro, NC on October 14th. We got the chance to talk with Skaggs about these honors, his upcoming events and what he has in store for the near future.

Eat Play Rock: Congratulations on your busy month! After all your hard work, it’s well deserved.

Ricky Skaggs: Thank you. I have always worked hard but I never did it for the awards. I have been in the music scene since age 5 and I am lucky that I haven’t become jaded. If I sell out a show or it’s half full, it doesn’t affect me. I do it for the fans.

Eat Play Rock: That’s a great way to look at things. So many people are consumed with being number one. But there are so many ways to be successful and also be happy. You have seen a lot of success in both the country and bluegrass genres. Is there one that is more fulfilling to you?

Ricky Skaggs: Well, country music was very rewarding financially. And I was also able to bring a style of music that I think filled a void. It was raw, traditional music during the “Urban Cowboy” craze – country songs with bluegrass fire. It was country music with bluegrass harmonies. I liked to bring in the mandolin, fiddle and banjo and we also had the guitar and piano. In ’96, Bill Monroe and my father passed away and I felt like I needed to go back to bluegrass. I wanted to go back to the music of my youth. Of course, there will never be another Bill Monroe. You get one of those maybe once every century. He started an entire genre of music. With the addition of Flatt and Scruggs in 1945, bluegrass was birthed in America. And country music was a lot of backporch pickin’ at that time with people like the Carter Family, Pop Stoneman and Jimmy Rodgers. I have been very rewarded in my career and have a great sense of peace and joy.

Eat Play Rock: What did you listen to growing up?

Ricky Skaggs: Bluegrass was my staple and my foundation. We listened to Bill Monroe, the Stanley Brothers, Flatt & Scruggs and my mother was a fan of country music. She loved Buck Owens, George Jones, Ray Price, Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn. We didn’t have a turntable until I went to work. My cousin had some 78 records and I learned that I could slow them down to 45s. That way I could learn note for note how to play the songs and it was easy to learn. I went on tour with Emmylou Harris in ’78. She introduced me to the Whites, Sharon White, who is now my wife, as well as Linda Ronstadt at a pickin’ party.

Ricky Skaggs on Bill Monroe and his Musical Influences

Eat Play Rock: Are you touring with your wife soon?

Ricky Skaggs: We did in 2014. We did a duet record, “Hearts Like Ours,” that was more country than bluegrass. In ’86 or ’87 we got CMA Duo of the Year for our song, “Love Can’t Ever Get Better Than This,” and we always wanted to do an album together at some point.

Ricky Skaggs on Bill Monroe and his Musical Influences

Eat Play Rock: We have talked about your musical influences. Are there any newer artists that you especially like?

Ricky Skaggs: Sure. I like Sturgill Simpson and a couple of guys out of Austin. I also really like Mo Pitney out of Knoxville. And he has a sister that sings like a bird. I also really like Chris Stapleton. He is a Kentucky boy and though he doesn’t sound traditional like George Jones, he is very unique. There is just something that touches you about his music. It’s raw, real and honest.

I really have a heart for these young kids. Today, they have maybe one album to get it right. I never felt that pressure of going in the studio with fear in my heart. Today, they have to sound and dress a certain way. Don’t sell that part of yourself. What’s most important is that you keep your dignity, your honesty and integrity.

Eat Play Rock: You have been in music for over 50 years. Any favorite cities or states you like to visit?

Ricky Skaggs: Yes. I have been in music for 57 years – I started at age 5. I started touring with Bill Monroe at the age of 15. I finished high school and then went back out again. I have to say that I love coming to Carolina and look forward to being back there next week.

Eat Play Rock: Your daughter is also in music, right?

Ricky Skaggs: Yes, Molly Skaggs. Her album will be self-published in January and it’s called, “A Place For The Heart.” She also is a part of Cageless Birds with Jonathan and Melissa Helser. Their song, “No Longer Slaves” has been nominated for a Dove Award this year.

Where To Catch Ricky Skaggs

Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder will be at the Carolina Theatre in Greensboro NC on October 14th at the PLC Land Jam 2016. This show will benefit the Piedmont Land Conservancy and all proceeds directly support local land conservation activities and programs. You can get the rest of his tour info here.

Ricky Skaggs on Bill Monroe and his Musical Influences

Ricky Skaggs also has a new book out. You can order an autographed copy of Kentucky Traveler here.

Get Social With Ricky Skaggs

RickySkaggs.com / Skaggs Family Records / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

About Dawn McAlexander

Dawn has been a music lover her entire life. She went to college in Boone, NC, an area that is rich in music and culture. She also worked as a radio deejay for 8 years and grew up in Southeastern, Va, a melting pot of different musical styles and traditions. She has been to more concerts than she can count in every genre you can imagine. She resides in North Carolina with her furbabies and her massive collection of Disney memorabilia.


  1. HOLY CRAP! You got to interview Ricky Skaggs?! First of all, he’s one of the masters of blue grass in his own right. Hearing his thoughts on Bill Monroe and modern country is awesome. Did you see him when he played with Bruce Hornsby? Epic.

  2. I have always loved Ricky’s music. I remember it from when I was younger. I loved his song Honey Won’t You Open That Door.
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  3. I have not listened to Ricky Skaggs in so long! I am so glad to see him still active in the industry. Country music has changed and I just do not think it is as good as it was decades ago. I love that classic sound Ricky has. Thanks for sharing!
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  4. Wow! So cool that you got to interview a legend!

  5. I can not believe you got to interview THE Ricky Skaggs! Oh. My. Gosh, I would be wetting myself over this guy. I mean, have you heard “Country Boy?” It’s definitive blue grass!

    OK, I’m just a lot jealous, but it was probably better you than me. My interview would have gone,

    Me- …
    Ricky- Aren’t you supposed to interview me?
    Me- …
    Ricky- Guys, I don’t think he’s breathing.
    Me- …
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  6. How exciting and completely awesome to get to interview such a living legend! I loved reading this and getting to learn more about him and his long career (57 years!)
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  7. I was shocked Ricky Skaggs was not already in the Hall of Fame! He is such an icon and so talented. I think this is a well deserved induction.
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  8. Pam Wattenbarger says

    My mom used to love Ricky Skaggs! She would be so happy to know that he was being inducted into the Hall of Fame.

  9. I think it’s so cool that you got to interview Ricky Skaggs! I had no idea that he wasn’t already in the hall of fame. It’s about time!

  10. This must have been a great life experience for you.
    You must have had a blast.

  11. This opportunity is nothing short of epic! My husband is a big bluegrass fan, so Ricky Skaggs has been in my life for awhile now and I adore his music.
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  12. That is sooooo cool that you got to interview Ricky Skaggs! He’s a legend! He has amazing skills!!! I’m looking forward to reading his book!
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  13. Growing up in Oklahoma, country was on all the stations and played in all the bars. I am very familiar with Ricky Skaggs although I lost track of him over the years. Good to see he is still doing what he loves.

  14. What a great interview! your so lucky you got to meet him!! Thanks for sharing!

  15. Elizabeth Lampman says

    It would be an amazing opportunity to interview Ricky Skaggs. He is so talented. I love his music. You did a great job.

  16. This is a great interview with Ricky Skaggs. It would be a dream come true to interview him. These are great questions.
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  17. Lisa Bristol says

    I would be beyond excited to do this interview. You must have been so excited to do it. I love his music and listen to him almost every day.

  18. That is so neat! You must have been very excited to get to do this interview. It’s always nice to be able to do interviews with someone that has so much talent.

  19. I didn’t know Ricky Skaggs toured with his wife! That’s really cool! I also like that he mentioned Chris Stapleton. I got to see Chris Stapleton in concert earlier this year and he was really good!
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  20. I am not very familiar with his music, but what a wonderful opportunity to interview someone you admire. I’ll have to look him up so I can listen to some of his work. It must be amazing with that impressive background.

  21. Very cool! I love how he says he didn’t do it for the awards but he does it for his fans. Those are the best kinds of musicians 🙂

  22. I remember growing up my mom listening to Ricky Skaggs all the time. He’s had quite a musical run and I think it’s fabulous that he’s still playing. What a great interview opportunity!
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  23. Wow, what an amazing musical career he’s has thus far. So many accomplishments, and great to read about his inspirations and the artists he loves today.

  24. What a great opportunity, love learning more about stars like him. He was born for the music scene, I mean..he was since he was 5! Incredible. 🙂

  25. What an incredible opportunity to meet him! Such a great man of music! Love him!

  26. Ricky Skaggs is a legend in the music industry. I would have been awestruck to have been able to meet him.
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  27. I remember hearing Ricky Skaggs’ music being played in my house while I was growing up. He has had such an extensive music career. What a great opportunity.

  28. He’s definitely a legend! I agree that his induction is well deserved!

  29. This is a wonderful interview. How amazing to interview such talent, and to be able to write about it is just awesome. He is a true legend.

  30. Its about time they inducted him into the Musician’s Hall of Fame. Ricky Skaggs is a great country singer and my favorite song is Crying my heart out over you. I can’t believe he’s been in the industry that long! Congratulations, Ricky!
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  31. I enjoy reading celebrity interviews, I can only imagine what a joy it must be to interview someone famous especially a legend in the music industry. I like when musicians get the respect and acknowledgement they deserve. 12 #1’s, wow that is a huge accomplishment.
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  32. Ourfamilyworld says

    Wow, what a lovely interview. He is a legend and so as his music! Heard him the other week.

  33. How awesome is it that you got to interview a legend! I really appreciate that he’s not stopping any time soon. We need more people like him to show the artists today what real music is.
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  34. What a great review! I haven’t listened to him but now I want to!

  35. Terri Steffes

    My dad loved Ricky Skaggs. I had totally forgotten that. I need to listen again and bring my dad’s love of music back to my own home!

  36. Angela @marathonsandmotivation.com

    This is so amazing that you got to interview Ricky Skaggs! I really enjoyed reading this, thanks so much for sharing this, loved it!!

  37. I’m not normally big on country but if live I could make an exception!

  38. I’d love to have him and his wife go for more studio versions of their duets. It’s been a while since I last listened to his songs, I wish he’d tour to a place I’m staying at some point this year!

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