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Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys

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Biography

Bob Wills (James Robert Wills, March 6, 1905 – May 13, 1975) was an American Western swing musician, songwriter, and big band leader. Considered by music authorities as the co-founder of Western swing, he was universally known as the King of Western Swing.
Wills formed several bands and played radio stations around the South and West until he formed the Texas Playboys in 1934 with Wills on fiddle, Tommy Duncan on piano and vocals, rhythm guitarist June Whalin, tenor banjoist Johnnie Lee Wills, and Kermit Whalin, who played steel guitar and bass. The band played regularly on a Tulsa, Oklahoma radio station, and added Leon McAuliffe on steel guitar, pianist Al Stricklin, drummer Smokey Dacus, and a horn section that expanded the band’s sound. Wills favored jazz-like arrangements and the band found national popularity into the 1940s with such hits as “Steel Guitar Rag”, “New San Antonio Rose”, “Smoke on the Water”, “Stars and Stripes on Iwo Jima”, and “New Spanish Two Step”.
Wills and the Texas Playboys recorded with several publishers and companies, including Vocalion, Okeh, Columbia, and MGM, frequently moving. In 1950, he had two top ten hits, “Ida Red Likes the Boogie” and “Faded Love”, which were his last hits for a decade. Throughout the 1950s, he struggled with poor health and tenuous finances, but continued to perform frequently despite the decline in popularity of his earlier music as rock and roll took over. Wills had a heart attack in 1962 and a second one the next year, which forced him to disband the Playboys although Wills continued to perform solo.

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  • Beerwagon

    I grew up on music we call Western Swing! It don't matter who's in Austin, Bob Wills is still the King!

    28 Feb 2011 Reply
  • Pentfixion

    A-aah! Everybody dance now!

    25 Feb 2011 Reply
  • RevThumbCock

    Bob Wills is still the king of western swing!

    11 Aug 2010 Reply
  • bathroom_window

    What about Asleep at the Wheel, Willie Nelson, etc?

    31 Jul 2010 Reply
  • DrugYourLove

    I love bob wills. The only thing recent to even come close, would be Wayne Hancock.

    17 Apr 2010 Reply
  • grazishimizu

    armazing!

    20 Jan 2010 Reply
  • pillfeast

    Take it away, Leon!

    12 Sep 2009 Reply
  • NOOBSTERpots

    Мисс Молли это класс :)

    14 May 2009 Reply
  • wesr29

    A sadly underappreciated artist. I might listen to todays country music if more of the musicians had listened to this.

    10 May 2009 Reply
  • Zoonie

    Indeed it is that very book. Highly recommended to all curious folk who want to know more but from an extreme outsider's perspective looking in.

    16 Mar 2009 Reply
  • CDPETE01

    coincidence or what?,I got the same title you're writing about from my local library ,a very good read,he went to the bob wills festival,was the book "lone star swing".Hello to zoonie.

    12 Mar 2009 Reply
  • Zoonie

    An author from the Orkney Isles, a guy called Duncan McLean, wrote a travelogue with some prize money he'd won for his first novel. In it he found the surviving members of the Bob Wills' band. I was seized by a need to hear the music and I'm so glad I did. Rocking, stomping, jazzy, polka'ing, swinging, brilliant, fun stuff.

    5 Mar 2009 Reply
  • Rolyath321

    I never thought I'd be listening to Western Swing, but I love it!

    24 Feb 2009 Reply
  • GreenTea200

    light crust doughboys was another group then. try herbsteiner(dot)com and herb steiner at myspace/herbsteiner

    15 Aug 2008 Reply
  • schizodanny

    Faultless. What's some similar Western swing?

    16 Mar 2008 Reply
  • PappaWheelie

    Sadly, I'm so far only a top listener of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys. Tags fixed accordingly...

    23 Nov 2007 Reply
  • purple_prince

    A-haaaaaaaa!

    10 Nov 2006 Reply