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 101-125 of 185 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Brunswick DAL134 10-in. 9/23/1935 Good old Oklahoma Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band, with male vocal duet vocalist, harmony vocal, instrumentalist, violin, leader, songwriter  
Brunswick DAL136 10-in. 9/23/1935 Mexicali Rose Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band, with male vocal solo vocalist, instrumentalist, violin, leader  
Brunswick DAL138 10-in. 9/23/1935 Never no more blues Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band, with male vocal solo leader, instrumentalist, violin  
Brunswick DAL140 10-in. 9/24/1935 Old fashioned love Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band, with male vocal solo vocalist, leader, instrumentalist, violin  
Brunswick DAL141 10-in. 9/24/1935 Oklahoma rag Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band leader, instrumentalist, violin, composer  
Brunswick DAL142 10-in. 9/24/1935 Black and blue rag Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band leader, instrumentalist, violin, composer  
Brunswick DAL143 10-in. 9/24/1935 Sitting on top of the world Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band, with male vocal solo vocalist, leader, instrumentalist, violin  
Brunswick DAL144 10-in. 9/24/1935 Four or five times Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band, with male vocal solo vocalist, leader  
Brunswick DAL216 10-in. 6/7/1937 Steel guitar stomp Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band leader  
Brunswick DAL229 10-in. 6/8/1937 Never no more hard times blues Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band, with male vocal solo leader, instrumentalist, violin  
Brunswick DAL230 10-in. 6/7/1937 Sunbonnet Sue Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band, with male vocal solo vocalist, harmony vocal, leader, instrumentalist, violin  
Brunswick DAL235 10-in. 6/9/1937 The new St. Louis blues Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band, with male vocal solo vocalist, instrumentalist, violin, leader  
Brunswick DAL239 10-in. 6/9/1937 Oozlin' daddy blues Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band, with male vocal solo instrumentalist, violin, leader  
Brunswick DAL582 10-in. 5/17/1938 Tulsa stomp Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band composer  
Brunswick DAL615 10-in. 11/28/1938 San Antonio rose Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band leader, instrumentalist, violin, composer  
Brunswick DAL616 10-in. 11/28/1938 Little girl, go ask your mama Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band leader, instrumentalist, violin  
Brunswick DAL617 10-in. 11/28/1938 Carolina in the morning Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band leader, instrumentalist, violin  
Brunswick DAL618 10-in. 11/28/1938 The convict and the rose Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band, with male vocal solo leader, instrumentalist, violin  
Brunswick DAL619 10-in. 11/28/1938 Silver bells Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band leader, instrumentalist, violin  
Brunswick DAL621 10-in. 11/28/1938 Beaumont rag Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band instrumentalist, violin, leader  
Brunswick DAL623 10-in. 11/29/1938 Ida Red Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band, with male vocal solo leader, instrumentalist, violin  
Brunswick DAL626 10-in. 11/28/1938 Whoa babe Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band, with male vocal solo leader, instrumentalist, violin  
Brunswick DAL627 10-in. 11/29/1938 I wonder if you feel the way I do Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band, with male vocal solo leader, instrumentalist, violin, composer, lyricist  
Brunswick DAL628 10-in. 11/30/1938 That's what I like 'bout the south Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band, with male vocal solo leader  
Brunswick DAL630 10-in. 11/30/1938 The waltz you saved for me Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band, with male vocal solo instrumentalist, violin, leader  
(Results 101-125 of 185 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Wills, Bob," accessed April 22, 2024, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/103732.

Wills, Bob. (2024). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved April 22, 2024, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/103732.

"Wills, Bob." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2024. Web. 22 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.