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Johnny Gimble

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John Paul Gimble (born May 30, 1926), better known as Johnny Gimble, is an American country musician associated with Western swing. He is an award-winning fiddle player and considered one of the most impressive fiddlers in the genre’s history.

Gimble was born in Bascom, Texas, (east of Tyler). He began playing in a band with his brothers at age 12, and continued playing with two of them, George and Jerry, as the Rose City Swingsters. The trio played local radio gigs, but soon after Gimble moved to Louisiana and began performing with Jimmie Davis. Late in the 1940s, he joined Bob Wills’s band, the Texas Playboys. With Wills, he played both fiddle and electric mandolin, and distinguished himself by using a five-string fiddle (most fiddles have four strings). He broke off to form his own group in 1951, performing as the house band at Wills’s club, but rejoined in 1953 and continued to play with Wills until the early 1960s.

Gimble left the music business briefly, working in a barbershop and a hospital, until 1969 when he and Wills began recording together again. From this time on he enjoyed steady work as a session musician, including with Merle Haggard on his Bob Wills tribute album and Chet Atkins on Superpickers in 1973. The following year he took a cue from a song he wrote and performed on the Atkins’ Superpickers album, “Fiddlin’ Around” and recorded the first of ten solo albums, Fiddlin’ Around.

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