Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Bob Wills On Western Wednesday...!

Anyone that likes country music, especially western swing, knows of Bob Wills.

Mr. Wills and the Texas Playboys were probably one of the best known groups when it came to western swing. Even today his music can be heard on the radio and on some old movies and country music videos.

May 13, 1975:
The inventor of western swing dies

Bob Wills, one of the most influential musicians in the history of country-western music, is born on a small farm near Kosse, Texas.

Born James Robert Wills in 1905, he was trained to be a musician from an early age. His father was a champion fiddle player, and he began giving Wills lessons as soon as the boy could hold the instrument. By the time he was 10, Wills was a skilled fiddler and a competent guitar and mandolin player.

Wills left home at 16 and worked various jobs, like picking cotton and preaching. He eventually joined a traveling medicine show, where he played fiddle and met Herman Arnspiger, a Texas farm boy who had learned to play guitar from a Sears catalog guitar book. The pair began playing at dances and parties around Fort Worth, and after adding a singer, won a regular radio gig performing as the Light Crust Doughboys.

In 1933, the group separated and Wills formed the band that would make him famous: Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. With the Playboys, Wills perfected his hard-driving country-western sound, which drew heavily on the rhythms of the popular jazz-swing bands of the era. Wills' fiddle playing sounded nothing like the traditional folk music he had heard as a child. By using strong beats and syncopation, he produced a sound that seemed to cry out for dancing.

Wills eventually added drums, brass, and woodwinds to the Texas Playboys, making himself into a country-western bandleader in the style of Benny Goodman or Artie Shaw. Several of his bands were as large as 22 pieces, and Wills worked with more than 600 musicians in his long career. In 1940, Wills took some of the Playboys to Hollywood, where the band appeared in a number of western movies that won them a nationwide following. Among their many hits were highly danceable tunes like, "Take Me Back to Tulsa," "Bubbles in My Beer," and the ever popular "San Antonio Rose." All told, Wills has sold more than 20 million records to date

Many critics have argued Wills and the Texas Playboys had a greater influence on the sounds of country-western music than any other performer or group. In recognition of his achievements, Wills was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1968. He believed his chances of winning were so slim he was backstage chatting with friends when the award was announced. When he was finally tracked down and brought on stage, he said, "I don't usually take my hat off to nobody. But I sure do to you folks."

Stricken by a series of severe strokes, he died seven years later at the age of 70.

I can remember my folks dancing in the living room while listening to some Bob Wills on the records player! One of the few times I saw them dance together! Thanks to the folks at for bringing that memory alive again!

How about coffee out on the patio this morning? I have some peach cobbler I'll share!


john wayne said...

what a Goofball,

wells ?

Chickenmom said...

Love that song title "Bubbles in My Beer"! Going to look that one up on YouTube!
Peach cobbler? Save a seat for me!

Phyllis (N/W Jersey)

Baby Sis said...

Bubba -
We saw the Bob Wills story "On the Road With Bob" several years ago at the 1894 Opera House in Galveston starring Asleep At The Wheel. Great Show!! I would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys Texas Swing.
And Bob Wills was the first to introduce drums into country music. When he and the Playboys first performed at the Grand Ole Opry, the drummer had to be behind the curtain as it was just "not right" to have drums. Ah-Haww! Love that sound even today!
Big hugs, and thanks for this today~

JO said...

Never did listen to Country music and niether did my parents that I can remember. But it is still a nice story.

I'll join join you on for some coffee and peach cobbler.

HermitJim said...

Hey John...
Let me never heard of him, right? That's sad!

I appreciate your visit.

Hey Phyllis...
Pretty cool title, isn't it? I hope you find it on YouTube.

Thanks for coming over today!

Hey Sis...
Sounds like it was a good show!

So much to learn about these folks. Lots of talent there!

Many thanks for coming by today!

Hey Jo...
Well, after all you are from New Jersey! We forgive ya, sweetie!

Thanks for dropping by today!