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Jesse Ashlock

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Biography

Jesse Ashlock was born in 1915. He started playing violin at age
nine. In 1930 he began going to the Crystal Springs Dance Pavilion
in Fort Worth, where James Robert (Bob) Wills played with his band.
Wills bought Jesse a fiddle, taught him to play, and included him in a
few of the band’s performances at Crystal Springs. In 1932 Ashlock
joined Milton Brown and His Musical Brownies. Brown was Wills’s
chief competition in Western Swing.

In 1935 Ashlock joined Bob Wills’s Original Texas Playboys as a
fiddle player. He stayed with Bob Wills throughout the rest of Wills’s
career and continued playing shows until three days before his
death. Ashlock’s playing style had its roots in jazz. His fiddle style
was characterized by hot breaks and hot choruses. His idol was jazz
violinist Joe Venuti. Ashlock’s attempt to play his fiddle like a horn
earned him placement in the category of the “hot fiddlers.”

While playing for Wills he became an integral part of the band. He
was known as a practical joker. He once told Bob Wills during a
performance that his pants were unzipped, causing Bob to stop
playing his chorus and double over trying to cover up the offending
opening. During his career with Wills, Ashlock was also involved
with the movies that Wills made.

Jesse died on August 9, 1976, in Austin, where he had moved from
Claremore, Oklahoma, the previous year. At the age of sixty-one he
had performed at the Broken Spoke, a country club, three days

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