Friday, April 18, 2008
Yahoo LAUNCHCAST Song Of The Day-Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys
Artist:Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys
Song:New San Antonio Rose
Album:The Essential Bob Wills 1935-47
When one talks about innovators in popular music, Bob Wills ranks right up there with Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong & Louis Jordan. He popularized what is now called Western Swing. He was born Mar. 6, 1905 in Kosse, TX. He learned to play fiddle & mandolin and played dances as a teen. He joined a Fort Worth medicine show in 1929 and played fiddle and did blackface comedy (!). He formed the Wills Fiddle Band with guitarist Herman Arnspiger, vocalist Milton Brown and his guitarist brother Durwood and banjoist Clifton Johnson. They got their own radio show in 1931 sponsored by Light Crust Flour and were renamed the Light Crust Doughboys. The company wouldn't allow the band to do anything but the radio show so Wills quit and replaced Milton Brown with Tommy Duncan (born Jan. 11, 1911 in Hillsboro, TX). Duncan would be the lead vocalist for many years. The group was now called The Texas Playboys and landed a radio show in Tulsa. The key addidtion to the band was steel guitarist Leon McAuliffe (born Mar. 1, 1917 in Houston). McAuliffe wrote many of the arrangements and is now considered a major innovator of the steel guitar. Other members were guitarist Al Stricklin, drummer Smokey Dacus and a horn section. In 1935, Wills signed his first recording deal with American Recording Company. It was here that he first worked with producer Unncle Art Satherly and this Columbia comp covers those recordings. By the end of the 30s, the big band sound was popular so Wills hired Eldon Shamblin (born Apr. 24, 1916 in Tulsa) to write arrangements that fused country with big band. By 1940 The Texas Playboys were an 18 piece band and New San Antonio Rose was their first national hit. They became one of the biggest acts in the US and Wills made films for Columbia Pictures. WWII forced the departure of Duncan, McAuliffe & Shamblin but they would all return later. Bob Wills continued to be successful into the 50s and was inducted into the Country Music Hall Of Fame in 1968. This comp is a perfect intro for newcomers. Merle Haggard recorded a tribute album in 1972 and of course Ray Benson continues to pay tribute to Wills with his band Asleep At The Wheel. Bob Wills suffered a stroke and died on May 13, 1975 at age 70. Here's Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys featuring Tommy Duncan & Leon McAuliffe performing San Antonio Rose in the 1945 film Rhythm Round-Up. The yelling is one of Wills' little quirks. He always did that.