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Western Swing with Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys

Bob Wills, who fronted the band Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, was instrumental in the development of western swing and rockabilly. The turning of the evolutionary wheels are more evident at some points and well hidden in others. In Wills’ case, the progress is obvious.

Here is the beginning of The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame bio. The band was inducted in 1999:

Bob Wills was the driving force behind Western Swing, a form of country & western that was broader in scope than the parent genre. A master at synthesizing styles, Wills brought jazz, hillbilly, boogie, blues, big-band swing, rhumba, mariachi, jitterbug music and more under his ecumenical umbrella. He has been called “the King of Western Swing” and “the first great amalgamator of American music.” Wills grew up in a part of Texas where diverse cultures and forms of music overlapped. His enthusiasm and mastery were such that he assimilated disparate genres into what might best be termed American music. (Wills called it “Texas fiddle music.”) “We’re the most versatile band in America,” Wills forthrightly asserted in 1944. He might’ve added that they were most innovative band as well. Certainly, they forced country music to open up in its acceptance of electric instruments. Even rock and roll’s freewheeling spirit of stylistic recombination has antecedents in the work of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys. (Continue Reading…)

Wikipedia describes the growth of the band:

After forming a new band, The Playboys, and relocating to Waco, Wills found enough popularity there to decide on a bigger market. They left Waco in January of 1934 for Oklahoma City. Wills soon settled the renamed Texas Playboys in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and began broadcasting noontime shows over the 50,000 watt KVOO radio station. Their 12:30-1:15 p.m. Monday–Friday broadcasts became a veritable institution in the region.

Nearly all of the daily (except Sunday) shows originated from the stage of Cain’s Ballroom. In addition, they played dances in the evenings, including regular ones at the ballroom on Thursdays and Saturdays.

Wills added a trumpet to the band inadvertently when he hired Everet Stover as an announcer, not knowing that he had played with the New Orleans symphony and had directed the governor’s band in Austin. Stover, thinking he had been hired as a trumpeter, began playing with the band with no comment from Wills. Young sax player Zeb McNally was allowed to play with the band, although Wills initially discouraged it. With two horns in the band, Wills realized he would have to add a drummer to balance things and create a fuller sound. He hired the young, “modern style musician” Smokey Ducas.[13] By 1935, Wills had added horn and reed players as well as drums to the Playboys. The addition of steel guitar whiz Leon McAuliffe in March 1935 added not only a formidable instrumentalist but a second engaging vocalist. Wills himself largely sang blues and sentimental ballads(Continue Reading…)

Above is Ida Red and below are two songs: Wake Up Susan and Liberty. 

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