Country Artist Carlton Haney

Once dubbed “The P.T. Barnum of Country Music” for his large personality, Carlton Haney was a booking agent, festival promoter, and songwriter primarily active in Bluegrass Music. Haney is best known for organizing the first multi-day Bluegrass Music festival as well as influencing the careers of the Osborne Brothers, Porter Wagoner, Conway Twitty, Merle Haggard, The Statler Brothers and Loretta Lynn. He was inducted to the Bluegrass Hall of Fame in 1998 by the International Bluegrass Music Association.

In 1953, Bill Monroe hired Haney as a booking agent for his band, Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys. Haney booked for the band until 1965. Haney was responsible for recruiting fiddler-star Bobby Hicks to the band in 1954, initially as a bass player.

Haney also managed Bluegrass duo Reno and Smiley between 1955 and 1964. While working with Reno and Smiley, he initiated the daily television show, “Top ‘o the Morning,” on WDBJ, Roanoke and wrote and co-wrote Reno & Smiley staples songs “He Will Forgive You,” “Kneel Down”, “I Never Get To Hold You In My Arms Anymore” and “Jimmy Caught the Dickens (Pushing Ernest in the Tub).”

Beginning in the 1960s, Haney began to lump some of the Bluegrass and Country acts together on the same stage. With the help of Ralph Rinzler in 1965, Haney produced the first weekend-long Bluegrass Music festival, held at Cantrell’s Horse Farm in Fincastle, Virginia. This multi-day model became the standard format for Bluegrass festivals and there are now more than 500 such events annually. Haney continued staging the festival over the next few years at various locations, including his 160 acres of renovated land in Camp Springs, NC.

During the 1970s, Haney published Muleskinner News, a prominent monthly Bluegrass magazine and the second of its kind. He co-wrote songs such as “The Letter” and “To See My Angel Cry.”

Grassroots to Bluegrass
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