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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 126-150 of 185 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Brunswick DAL632 10-in. 11/30/1938 Don't let the deal go down Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band leader, instrumentalist, violin  
Brunswick DAL633 10-in. 11/29/1938 Drunkard blues Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band, with male vocal solo leader, instrumentalist, violin  
Brunswick DAL634 10-in. 11/30/1938 You're okay Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band, with male vocal solo leader  
Brunswick DAL635 10-in. 11/29/1938 Liza pull down the shades Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band leader, composer  
Brunswick DAL970 10-in. 4/15/1940 Lone star rag Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band leader, instrumentalist, violin, composer  
Brunswick DAL972 10-in. 4/15/1940 I don't lov'a nobody Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band leader, instrumentalist, violin, composer  
Brunswick DAL974 10-in. 4/15/1940 Corrine Corinna Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band, with male vocal solo vocalist, instrumentalist, violin  
Brunswick DAL976 10-in. 4/15/1940 Blue bonnet rag Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band leader, composer  
Brunswick DAL977 10-in. 4/16/1940 Bob Wills' special Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band composer, instrumentalist, violin  
Brunswick DAL978 10-in. 4/15/1940 Time changes everything Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band, with male vocal solo leader, instrumentalist, violin, lyricist, composer  
Brunswick DAL979 10-in. 4/15/1940 Medley of Spanish waltzes Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys String band, with male vocal solo vocalist, leader, composer, instrumentalist, violin, harmony vocal  
Brunswick DAL980 10-in. 4/16/1940 Big Beaver Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys Jazz/dance band leader, composer  
Brunswick DAL1170 10-in. 2/24/1941 New worried mind Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance band vocalist, harmony vocal  
Brunswick DAL1173 10-in. 2/24/1941 Oh! you pretty woman Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys Male vocal solo, with jazz/dance band leader  
Brunswick DAL1176 10-in. 2/24/1941 I knew the moment I lost you Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys Male vocal solo, with string band songwriter  
Brunswick DAL1180 10-in. 2/26/1941 Take me back to Tulsa Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys Male vocal solo, with string band vocalist, harmony vocal, instrumentalist, violin, composer, lyricist  
Gramophone 0SB3637 10-in. before 6/2/1953 San Antonio rose Harry Brandelius ; Ingalill Rossvald ; Thorsten Sjogrens Orkester Female-male vocal duet, with instrumental ensemble composer  
Decca 88703 9/29/1955 Roll your own Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys instrumentalist, violin  
Decca 88704 9/29/1955 My shoes keep walking back to you Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys instrumentalist, violin  
Decca 88705 9/29/1955 I wonder if you feel the way Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys instrumentalist, violin  
Decca L 8132 1/24/1955 New Osage stomp Texas Playboys ; Bob Wills instrumentalist, violin, leader  
Decca L 8133 1/24/1955 Carnations for the memory Texas Playboys ; Bob Wills instrumentalist, violin, leader  
Decca L 8134 1/24/1955 Too much mambo Texas Playboys ; Bob Wills instrumentalist, violin, leader  
Decca L 8135 1/24/1955 Echo yodel Texas Playboys ; Bob Wills instrumentalist, violin, leader  
Decca L 8136 1/24/1955 New dreamy eyed waltz Texas Playboys ; Bob Wills instrumentalist, violin, leader  
(Results 126-150 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

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