Art&Seek presents This Week in Texas Music History. Every week, we’ll spotlight a different moment and the musician who made it. This week, Texas music scholar Gary Hartman celebrates a poor farm boy who became a “king.”
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And if you’re a music lover, be sure to check out Track by Track, the bi-weekly podcast from Paul Slavens, host of KERA radio’s 90.1 at Night.
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Bob Wills, often called the “king of Western swing,” was born March 6, 1905, in rural Limestone County, Texas. In 1913, his family moved to the small town of Turkey in the Texas Panhandle. Wills learned to play traditional fiddle music from his father, but he also loved blues, jazz and mariachi. In 1929, Wills moved to Fort Worth, where he met previous This Week in Texas Music History subject Milton Brown and eventually formed the Light Crust Doughboys. The group’s remarkably diverse repertoire, which included fiddle breakdowns, blues, jazz, country and pop, attracted a huge following. Milton Brown died in1936, but Wills gained national fame with his Texas Playboys, making dozens of hit records and appearing in several Hollywood westerns. Inducted into both the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Bob Wills was a major influence on numerous country musicians, as well as on such rock and roll pioneers as Bill Haley and Buddy Holly.
Next time on This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll honor a migrant farm worker who helped revolutionize conjunto music.