Big Family: The Story of Bluegrass Music


Bluegrass Musicians Receive Hero's Welcome in Japan

Bluegrass musicians traveling in Japan were shocked to see how they were treated: like "rock gods," continually thronged by adoring young fans.

AIRED: August 30, 2019 | 0:01:52

- Back in the '60s and '70s the big folk movement

created market in Japan for bluegrass.

Flatt and Scruggs went, Stanton Brothers,

Ralph Stanley, and J.D. Crowe and New South

toured over there a bunch.

- And we went to Japan in 1975.

We were over there, like, 10 days.

And I think we played eight concerts,

and out of those eight,

every one of them was sold out.

It was just encore after encore.

They wouldn't let us quit,

we had to come back three or four times.

I mean, that was a great feeling, you know?

I really didn't wanna come back

to the U.S. after playing in Japan, (chuckles) so.

- Bluegrass in Japan, at that point,

was at it's peak, you know?

And I remember running to the car after the concert

and people trying to rip our shirts off

and things like that.

It was like real rock god mentality, you know, over there.

It was a strange thing that I haven't really

had happen to me since.

- Bill was huge in Japan.

They loved bluegrass over there,

and they'd be people waiting for him at the airport.

(energetic violin music)

- When we toured Japan the second time,

I think 1974, Vassar came along with us.

Vassar Clements.

When we got off the airplane there were like,

it's funny, I mean,

this has only happened to us really once or twice, ever,

but they treated us like The Beatles.

We're walking down the ramp

and there's these people

with these placards and screaming teenagers.

And off to the side,

is a whole knot

of young Japanese music fans

with Vassar's picture on it.

- [Narrator] Japan's love of bluegrass

inspired the country's own musicians,

and led to a thriving roster of festivals and traditions.