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Luke Wills

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Luke Wills

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Biography

Luther J. “Luke” Wills was born Sept. 10, 1920, on a farm near Memphis, Hall County, Texas.

Luke was the younger brother of Bob Wills and the seventh of the Wills’ family children. He was rated so differently from the rest of the family that it was a family joke that his mother had picked up the wrong baby, after one of the many social dances held in the area.

Like Johnnie Lee, Luke learned to play tenor banjo and made his musical debut in 1937 when he was 17, doing his first show with Bob’s band in Cain’s Academy in Tulsa. Luke even signed his first Social Security card in the office at Cain’s. Luke then continued his career, now as a bass player in the second Wills’ band, led by elder brother Johnnie Lee Wills, called the Rhythmaires. In the early 1940’s, when Bob left for Hollywood to make western movies, he took Luke and several other Texas Playboys with him. Together, they made several theatrical shorts and features while Johnnie Lee took over the Cain’s broadcasts and dances.

In 1943, he joined the US Navy during WW II. After service, he led Bob’s second band and covered the dance circuit of northern and central California, appearing first as Luke Wills And the Texas Playboys Number 2 but to avoid confusion this soon became Luke Wills’ Rhythm Busters. He recorded for King and RCA-Victor in the late 1940’s, adopting a similar style of comments and interjections as Bob though not in a high pitched voice.

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