Among the most distinguished practitioners of traditional bluegrass, Del McCoury was the epitome of the "high lonesome sound" for over three decades. Born Delano Floyd McCoury, he was raised in Bakersville, North Carolina. In 1941, he and his family moved to Glen Rock, Pennsylvania, where he got his start as a five-string banjo picker with Keith Daniels & the Blue Ridge Ramblers. Later he played with Jack Cooke's Virginia Mountain Boys in Baltimore. McCoury got his first big break in 1963 when Bill Monroe hired the Virginia Mountain Boys to play a few New York gigs. Monroe was impressed by the young banjo player and invited him to join his Blue Grass Boys. Shortly after accepting Monroe's offer, McCoury became the group's lead vocalist and took up rhythm guitar. In early 1964, he recorded one single with Monroe, but a month later returned home to marry.