A pioneer is defined as one who is among the earliest in any field or profession. Melvin Goins would be one of those pioneers in bluegrass music. From the time he played his first radio show in 1951 on WKOY in Bluefield, WV to his 2009 IBMA Hall of Fame induction for his time with the Lonesome Pine Fiddlers, Melvin has certainly cemented his place in the bluegrass industry. He formed his first band in 1953 with his brother Ray, Bernard Dillon, and Joe Meadows to form the Shenandoah Playboys. They would play on WHIS radio in Bluefield and Saturday night they played dances.
Later on in 1953, Melvin would get his break in the bluegrass music industry when he joined “The Lonesome Pine Fiddlers”. He moved to Pikeville, KY with his brother Ray and joined the Fiddlers playing on WLSI radio in Pikeville as well as playing movie theatres locally. Over the next years Melvin was in and out of the business while his brother Ray worked several jobs as a coal miner, carpenter, and in a furniture factory. For a short while Melvin formed a band with Billy Edwards, Norman Blake, Bill Lowe, and Louie Proffitt. They would open shows for Hylo Brown and play as his back-up band. In January 1966 Melvin went to work with Ralph Stanley helping him with booking shows. Melvin played bass with “The Stanley Brothers”, did some comedy work and was given the nickname “Big Wilbur” by Carter Stanley. Carter Stanley passed in December of 1966, but Melvin stayed on with Ralph and the Clinch Mountain Boys until 1969.
In 1969, Melvin and Ray got back together and formed the “Goins Brothers”. The Goins Brothers became a permanent act playing festivals and recorded twenty albums over the next 30 years. Melvin has helped the careers of such bluegrass musicians as Dave Evans, Glen Duncan, and Charlie Sizemore. Other musicians that have played with him are Buddy Griffin, John Rigsby, John McNeely, and James Price just to name a few. In 1971 Melvin took on the role of event promoter and promoted many festivals over the years and even in today’s circuit.
In 1982 Melvin added disc jockey to his many talents. Even today he still tapes Saturday morning shows for WSIP in Paintsville, KY. Another honor that came to Melvin in 1982 was when he won Bluegrass Promoter of the year, he also won the award in 1983, 1984, and also 1985. In 1992 Melvin became the first Bluegrass Musician ever to appear on the cover of the Smithsonian magazine along with his grandson Michael.
In 1994 Ray began to have some health problems which forced him to quit touring. After much discussion Ray told Melvin he should keep the music going. After much thought he came up with his current name Melvin Goins & Windy Mountain. The name stems from a song recorded by The Lonesome Pine Fiddlers.
In 2001 Melvin and his brother Ray were put into the Bill Monroe Bluegrass Hall of Fame in Bean Blossom, Indiana, this was the first of many awards to come for the brothers. Also in 2001 Melvin was honored with the Appalachian Treasure Award from Morehead State University. The award is given to an individual for his or her quality work and prominence in art, crafts, music, or literature representative of Appalachia.
In 2005 Melvin and his brother Ray were put onto the Country Music Highway in Kentucky. This is a 144 mile stretch of US 23 in Eastern KY that honors the stars that were from that area. Stars that have been honored are Loretta Lynn, Billy Ray Cyrus, Dwight Yoakam, Patty Loveless, Keith Whitley, Hylo Brown, and many others.
Even through all the awards Melvin has carried on the traditional sounds of Bluegrass music. Having notably famous country artist Tom T. Hall write a song called Dancing in the Dirt for one of his current CD’s by the same title. The highlight of his nearly 60 year career though came in 2009 when he received a call from Eddie Stubbs of the Grand Ole Opry telling him that “The Lonesome Pine Fiddlers” were being inducted into the IBMA Bluegrass Hall of Fame. On the stage of the Old Ryman Auditorium Melvin Goins, Bobby Osborne, and Paul Williams received a standing ovation worthy of true pioneers in the Bluegrass Industry. In 2011 Melvin & Ray Goins were inducted into the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame along with Keith Whitley, Patty Loveless, Steve Wariner, Molly O’Day and several others highlighting an over 60 year career in bluegrass music. So is Melvin Goins a pioneer in the bluegrass industry? I think that question has already been answered. YES