Friday, November 23, 2012

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Tex Williams & his Western Caravan

Artist:Tex Williams & his Western Caravan
Song:Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette)
Album:That's What I Like About The West

Sollie Paul "Tex" Williams was a pioneer of the mix of country music and jazz called Western Swing. He is best known for the 1947 chart topping novelty song Smoke! Smoke! Smoke!. He was born Aug. 23, 1917 in Ramsey, Fayette County, IL. Williams moved to Los Angeles in 1942. There were a lot of transplanted Texas and Oklahoma natives living in California working in the defense industry and they wanted to hear Western Swing that they heard at home. The most popular Western Swing band at the time was Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys featuring singer Tommy Duncan. Spade Cooley hired Williams to sing in his band because he sang in a baritone like Tommy Duncan. Cooley renamed him Tex Williams so listeners would know what kind of music they were performing. Williams sang several of Cooley's hits including his biggest hit Shame On You in 1945. In 1946, Capitol Records offered Williams a solo contract. Williams thought  Cooley should pay him more anyway. Cooley blew his top and fired Williams in June 1946. But the band went with Williams and The Western Caravan was born. Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! was written by legendary guitarist Merle Travis for Williams' talking blues singing style. The song topped the Billboard singles chart for six weeks in 1947. The song was also a hit for comedian Phil Harris. The best known cover of Smoke! Smoke! Smoke was by Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen in 1972. And Williams' original recording was played over the opening credits of the 2006 film Thank You For Smoking. Williams had a few more country hits until he left Capitol in 1951. And Western Swing wasn't popular in the 50s. Capitol released a comp in 1996 but it's out of print. And a lot of the available Tex Williams CDs do not contain his original recordings. The exception is this CD from the European label ASV/Living Era which also contains some Spade Cooley hits. Tex Williams had some country hits in the late 60s But he faded in the 70s. He died from cancer on Oct. 11, 1985 at age 68. Here's Tex Williams performing Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette).

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