Jimmy Martin was born and raised in the rural farming town of Sneedville, Tennessee. At the age of four, he lost his father, Ease Martin, to pneumonia. To help his family, Jimmy left school after the 3rd grade to work in the tobacco fields. He made his first guitar out of a Prince Albert cigar can because Prince Albert was a sponsor of the Grand Ole Opry. Though his family did not have a radio, Jimmy would go into town on Saturday night and ask someone sitting in their car if they could turn their radio on so he could here Bill Monroe and Roy Acuff on the Grand Ole Opry.
Jimmy was 22 years old when he got fired from a paint factory in Morristown, TN for singing on the job. He then boarded a bus for Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. There, he talked his way backstage to meet his idol, bluegrass pioneer, Bill Monroe. Impressed by the young man's courage, Monroe agreed to audition Jimmy on the spot. They sang the Old Cross Roads together, Jimmy sang Poor Ellen Smith, and then, to test Jimmy's guitar playing, Monroe had fiddler Chubby Wise play the Orange Blossom Special. A week later, Jimmy was in Fort Smith, Arkansas singing on stage with Bill Monroe.
Jimmy spent 5 years as Monroe's lead singer and rhythm guitar player. Together they recorded such classics as The Little Girl and the Dreadful Snake, Uncle Pen, A Voice From On High, Sitting Alone in the Moonlight, I'm Blue, I'm Lonesome, Walking in Jerusalem, and countless others.
Following a brief stint as Jimmy Martin and the Osborne Brothers, Jimmy started his own band Jimmy Martin and the Sunny Mountain Boys. Under this moniker, he recorded 136 sides for Decca Records, including Widowmaker, Sunny Side of the Mountain, Freeborn Man, Ocean of Diamonds, Rock Hearts, Hit Parade of Love, Don't Cry to Me, and Future on Ice. Following his 18 years with Decca, Jimmy recorded 6 albums for Gusto Records before starting his own label, Sunny Mountain Music.
In 1972 Jimmy joined a parade of stars, including Roy Acuff, Earl Scruggs, Mother Maybelle Carter, Merle Travis, and Doc Watson, to record a three record album, 'Will the Circle be Unbroken,' with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Jimmy sang the Grand Ole Opry Song, Losing You, Sunny Side of the Mountain, My Walking Shoes, and You Don't Don't My Mind. The album went on to become a Gold Record.
Jimmy has landed numerous hits on the country charts, won songwriter and vocalist rewards, has been made a member of the International Bluegrass Hall of Honor and the Bean Blossom Hall of Fame and was recently named 'Ambassador' of the Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival, the longest running bluegrass festival in the world.
He now plays 20 show dates a years and has been 'semi-retired for the past 18 years,' spending the fall and winter months hunting raccoon, rabbit, and squirrel. Dig on that!