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This Week in Texas Music History: Leon McAuliffe
by Stephen Becker 4 Mar 2011

This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll celebrate a musician who really knew how to “steel” the spotlight.


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 musician who really knew how to “steel” the spotlight.

You can also hear This Week in Texas Music History on Friday on KXT and Saturday on KERA radio. But subscribe to the podcast so you won’t miss an episode. And our thanks to KUT public radio in Austin for helping us bring this segment to you. And if you’re a music lover, be sure to check out Track by Track, the bi-weekly podcast from Paul Slavens, host of KXT’s The Paul Slavens Show, heard Sunday night’s at 8.

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Leon McAuliffe was born March 1, 1917, in Houston. He grew up playing Hawaiian slide guitar, but in 1933, he joined Pappy O’Daniel’s Light Crust Doughboys as their steel guitarist. In 1935, Leon McAuliffe joined former Light Crust Doughboy Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys. It was with Wills that McAuliffe had his greatest success. His now classic tune “Steel Guitar Rag” inspired Wills to spotlight McAuliffe by calling out “Look out, friends – here’s Leon. Take it away, boys, take it away!” Leon McAuliffe performed with many other bands during his long career, and he also led the Texas Playboys on a reunion tour.