Image Source: Wikipedia

Bob Wills

James Robert Wills (March 6, 1905 – May 13, 1975) was an American Western swing musician, songwriter, and bandleader. Considered by music authorities as the founder of Western swing, he was known widely as the King of Western Swing (although Spade Cooley self-promoted the moniker "King of Western Swing" from 1942 to 1969). He was also noted for punctuating his music with his trademark "ah-haa" calls.

Wills formed several bands and played radio stations around the South and West until he formed the Texas Playboys in 1934 with Wills on fiddle, Tommy Duncan on piano and vocals, rhythm guitarist June Whalin, tenor banjoist Johnnie Lee Wills, and Kermit Whalin who played steel guitar and bass. Oklahoma guitar player Eldon Shamblin joined the band in 1937 bringing jazzy influence and arrangements. The band played regularly on Tulsa, Oklahoma, radio station KVOO and added Leon McAuliffe on steel guitar, pianist Al Stricklin, drummer Smokey Dacus, and a horn section that expanded the band's sound. Wills favored jazz-like arrangements and the band found national popularity into the 1940s with such hits as "Steel Guitar Rag", "San Antonio Rose", "Smoke on the Water", "Stars and Stripes on Iwo Jima", and "New Spanish Two Step".

Wills and the Texas Playboys recorded with several publishers and companies, including Vocalion, Okeh, Columbia, and MGM. In 1950, Wills had two top 10 hits, "Ida Red likes the Boogie" and "Faded Love", which were his last hits for a decade. Throughout the 1950s, he struggled with poor health and tenuous finances. He continued to perform frequently despite a decline in the popularity of his earlier hit songs, and the growing popularity of rock and roll. Wills had a heart attack in 1962, and a second one the next year, which forced him to disband the Texas Playboys. Wills continued to perform solo.

The Country Music Hall of Fame inducted Wills in 1968 and the Texas State Legislature honored him for his contribution to American music.

In 1972, Wills accepted a citation from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers in Nashville. He recorded an album with fan Merle Haggard in 1973. Wills suffered two strokes that left him partially paralyzed, and unable to communicate. He was comatose the last two months of his life, and died in a Fort Worth nursing home in 1975. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted Wills and the Texas Playboys in 1999.

Birth and Death Data: Born March 6, 1905 (Limestone County), Died May 13, 1975 (Fort Worth)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1932 - 1957

Roles Represented in DAHR: leader, violin, composer, songwriter, vocalist, lyricist, harmony vocal, arranger, speaker

Notes: Bob Wills is known for his "hollers" - spoken interjections during most of his records.

= Recordings are available for online listening.
= Recordings were issued from this master. No recordings issued from other masters.

Recordings (Results 76-100 of 185 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Columbia HCO2017 10-in. 9/6/1946 Fat boy rag Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band leader, composer  
Columbia HCO2018 10-in. 9/6/1946 The kind of love I can't forget Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band, with male vocal solo leader, songwriter  
Columbia RHCO4408 10-in. 12/18/1950 Faded love Stoney Cooper ; Wilma Lee Cooper Female vocal solo, with string band and vocal trio songwriter  
Columbia CCO4858 10-in. 10/15/1947 The devil ain't lazy Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band, with male vocal solo leader  
Columbia CCO4859 10-in. 10/15/1947 A sweet kind of love Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band, with male vocal solo leader  
Columbia CCO4860 10-in. 10/15/1947 Hometown stomp Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band leader, composer  
Columbia CCO4861 10-in. 10/15/1947 Cowboy stomp Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band leader, songwriter  
Columbia CCO4862 10-in. 10/15/1947 Misery Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band, with male vocal solo instrumentalist, violin, leader, songwriter  
Columbia CCO4864 10-in. 10/15/1947 Bob Wills schottische Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band leader, speaker, instrumentalist, violin  
Columbia CCO4866 10-in. 10/16/1947 Texarkana baby Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band, with male vocal solo leader  
Columbia CCO4867 10-in. 10/16/1947 Good time cake-walk Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band, with male vocal solo leader, instrumentalist, violin  
Columbia CCO4868 10-in. 10/16/1947 Can't get enough of Texas Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band, with male vocal solo leader, songwriter  
Columbia CCO4869 10-in. 10/16/1947 You're there Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band, with male vocal solo instrumentalist, violin, leader  
Columbia CCO4871 10-in. 10/16/1947 New Texas Playboy rag Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band, with male vocal solo leader, instrumentalist, violin, songwriter  
Columbia CCO4873 10-in. 10/16/1947 Deep water Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band, with male vocal solo leader, instrumentalist, violin  
Columbia CO41770 10-in. 9/30/1949 San Antonio rose Lawrence Loy ; Wilber Waite's Pokeberry Promenaders Male square dance caller, with string band lyricist, composer  
Brunswick DAL146 10-in. 9-25-1935 Smith's reel Sleepy Johnson ; Bob Wills Violin and guitar duet instrumentalist, violin  
Brunswick DAL147 10-in. 9-23-1935 Harmony Sleepy Johnson ; Bob Wills Violin and guitar duet instrumentalist, violin  
Brunswick DAL572 10-in. 5/16/1938 Keep knocking (but you can't come in) Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band, with male vocal solo leader, instrumentalist, violin  
Brunswick DAL126 10-in. 9/23/1935 Osage stomp Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band leader, instrumentalist, violin, composer  
Brunswick DAL127 10-in. 9/23/1935 Get with it Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band, with male vocal solo leader, instrumentalist, violin, songwriter  
Brunswick DAL129 10-in. 9/23/1935 I can't give you anything but love Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band, with male vocal solo leader  
Brunswick DAL130 10-in. 9/23/1935 Spanish two step Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band leader, instrumentalist, violin, composer  
Brunswick DAL131 10-in. 9/23/1935 Maiden's prayer Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band leader, instrumentalist, violin, composer  
Brunswick DAL133 10-in. 9/23/1935 St Louis blues Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band, with male vocal duet vocalist, leader  
(Results 76-100 of 185 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Wills, Bob," accessed April 18, 2024, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/103732.

Wills, Bob. (2024). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved April 18, 2024, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/103732.

"Wills, Bob." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2024. Web. 18 April 2024.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/103732

Wikipedia content provided under the terms of the Creative Commons BY-SA license

Feedback

Send the Editors a message about this record.