A Brief History of Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine
Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine was founded in 1966 by a group of Washington, DC area bluegrass musicians and fans. One of the founders, Dianne Sims, had found out, after the fact, that the Stanley Brothers had been performing in town. She called bluegrass friend Gary Henderson and asked if he had been aware of their performance. He had not. She called another bluegrass friend, Pete Kuykendall, and asked if he had known about it. He had not. Vowing not to miss another such local performance by a touring bluegrass band, the three decided to start a Washington, DC area bluegrass newsletter.
Along with friends Dick Spotswood, Dick Freeland, George McCeney, and Vince Sims, the aforementioned three friends launched Bluegrass Unlimited in July of 1966. Dick Spottswood came up with the name Bluegrass Unlimited based on a magazine called Blues Unlimited that was published in England. Dianne and Vince Sims procured a government surplus mimeograph machine and set it up in their basement. They hosted monthly parties for the purpose of printing and assembling the publication. It was a completely volunteer operation. Some of the volunteers included: Tom and Sally Gray, Mike and Dave Auldridge, John Duffey, Joan Shagan, Pete and Marion Kuykendall, and Alice Gerrard.
Originally the publication was an 8.5X14 mimeographed newsletter with a length of 12 to 14 pages. From 1966 to 1970 it was edited by Dick Spottswood, with assistance from Diane Simms. By October of 1967, the format changed to 9X7 booklet format, approximately 24 pages in length.
By 1970, Pete and Marion Kuykendall felt like they could make the magazine a full-time for-profit venture. The magazine had grown from a Washington, DC area newsletter to a national publication. In 1971 the format changed to its current 8.5X11 full magazine layout. It continued to grow in size and popularity and has remained the predominant print publication for bluegrass music.
Marion Kuykendall fell ill with cancer and passed away in 1980. Pete Kuykendall continued to steer the magazine until he passed in 2017. His staff continued to run the magazine until the Fall of 2020, when Pete’s widow, Kitsy Kuykendall, made the decision to allow the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum to acquire the magazine. The first issue printed under the banner of the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum was the November 2020 issue.