Bob Wills

His father, a fiddle player, was his grandfather and taught Wills how to play the mandolin and the fiddle. He was born in Kosse, Texas. After many years of drifting, Jim Rob, then in his 20s attended barber school and got married. He then moved to Roy, New Mexico, then to Turkey, Texas (now his hometown) to become a barber. Even after moving to Fort Worth, he continued to alternate between barbering and playing the fiddle. He learned comedy timing and the “patter” that he used to deliver on his records. It was at this time that he got the nickname Bob from the owner of the medicine show. Wills and Herman Arnspinger met in Fort Worth. They formed The Wills Fiddle Band. The group was founded by Milton Brown, who joined them as the lead singer in 1930. He brought an innovative spirit and experimentation to the group, which is now known as the Light Crust Doughboys thanks to radio sponsorship from the makers of Light Crust Flour. Brown left the group in 1932 to start the Musical Brownies, a Western-swing band. Brown also added twin fiddles, the tenor banjo, and slap basse, pointing the music towards swing. They played at local dancehalls and radio stations. Wills remained in the Doughboys, and Tommy Duncan was appointed their new singer in 1932. He was unable to get along with W. Lee O’Daniel (the future Texas Governor), who was the authoritarian host on the Light Crust Doughboy radio program. O’Daniel, who had turned the show’s popularity into increasing power within Light Crust Flour’s parent company Burrus Mill and Elevator Company, was elected General Manager. He hated what he called “hillbilly music”. After Wills missed one too many shows due to his drinking, Duncan and Wills left the Doughboys. Wills formed “The Playboys”, a new band and moved to Waco. There, he found enough success to choose a larger market. In January 1934, they moved to Oklahoma City. Soon, Wills settled the “Texas Playboys”, a group that was renamed in Tulsa. He began broadcasting noontime shows on the KVOO radio station, which is 50,000 watts. The 12:30-1:15 Monday-Friday broadcasts were a pillar of the community. Cain’s Ballroom was the home to nearly all the daily shows (except Sunday). They also performed dances in the evenings. Wills had also added reed players, drums and horn to the Playboys by 1935. Leon McAuliffe, a steel guitar wizard, was added to the Playboys in March 1935. He became not only an excellent instrumentalist but also a talented vocalist. Wills sang a lot of blues and sentimental songs. Text contributed by users is available under Creative Commons By–SA License. It may also be available under GNU FDL.

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