Benny Martin

Born: May 8, 1928
Sparta, TN, USA
Died: March 13, 2001

Benny was born to George and Polly Martin in Sparta, Tennessee. He was the 3rd in a family of 7 siblings. Benny had 2 brothers and 4 sisters named Catherine, Roberta, Pauline, Joann, Gene and George, Jr. The family was very musically inclined and played as a family band throughout the early 1920's. Benny became more interested in pursuing music as a career in his early years and ran away from home when he was only 11 to Knoxville, TN to play on the KNOX Merry-go-round radio program. He later returned home and decided to set his sights on Nashville. At age 13 he hitchhiked to Nashville and hooked up with Big Jeff - a radio and festival performer. Big Jeff and his girlfriend Tootsie took care of Benny like he was their son. He became a regular performer with Big Jeff and began to hang around the musical venues in Nashville at the time. Later Tootsie and Big Jeff would buy a small bar in an alley behind the Grand Ole Opry. It would become "Tootsie's Orchid Lounge" - the official watering hole of all the country musicians who came to Nashville to play the Opry. Benny played with a variety of musicians during the early start of his career including Bill Monroe, Hank Williams, Sr., Roy Acuff, Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs, Don Reno, Tom T. Hall and many others.

Benny's show name was "The Big Tiger" or "Big Tige". This came from his loud and very aggressive style of performing. When he performed he used every inch of the stage - jumping wildly in the air as he played his signature fiddles. He was the original showman and is recognized as one of the world's greatest entertainers. He was known as the "entertainers entertainer."

Thanks to Regina, Benny Martin's daughter, for the inspiring biography. You may also check out a complete biography of Benny Martin at

Instruments Played / Skills:
Fiddle Guitar Bass Guitar Mandolin


Benny Martin Has Worked With:
Bill Monroe Hank Williams Sr. Roy Acuff Lester Flatt Earl Scruggs Don Reno Tom T. Hall
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"All in all, we sound like The Knack and The Bay City Rollers being molested by Black Flag and Black Sabbath."

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