May 5th 1944 Bakersfield California

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May 5th 1944 Bakersfield California - od \^> o 1 y wood V-/o — (By ERSKtNB JOHNSON)-...
od \^> o 1 y wood V-/o — (By ERSKtNB JOHNSON)- ui ma n You've never heard of Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys? The farmer's son who went to a barber's college and wound up playing a $5000 fiddle as the leader of "America's greatest western dance band"? You haven't? AVell, confidentially, we hadn't heard of Bob Wills or his Texas Playboys, either, until we met the gentleman today. But we know all about him now. Yes, sir. How he walked into a Hollywood violin maker's shop and bowled over the old gent by planking planking down $5000 cash lor that violin. Also, all about his eight uncles and seven aunts and his grandpappy who were fiddlers, too. Only they don't fiddle for money. They just They aren't acquisitive like fiddle. Bob. Bob Wills, a short, barrel-chested, semi-bald gent, is the latest phenomenon phenomenon in the musical world. In fact, he's been doing all right for the last nine years, in 1936 he paid an income tax second only to Paul Whiteman, who was tops in the flats and sharps department. People haven't heard much about Bob because he concentrated his fiddling down in Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and Kansas, where he is the Harry James of the barn dance circuit. But now he is moving into the big time, packing 19,000 people into such places as the Oakland Civic Auditorium. Bob Wills and his boys may be from Tay-xus, but they'll hit you over the head with a piano stool If you call them a hillbilly band. Wills drawls a little but doesn't sound like movie version of a western fiddler. "We're hep," he says. "We're the most Sure, versatile we give band In America, 'em western music like 'Mama Don't Allow Is T q Low< down Fiddlin' Around Here,' and 'Liza Jane, 1 but we give 'em rhum- bas, too. And when there are jitterbugs jitterbugs In the Joint we get 'em BO happy they can't stay on the floor. We lay It on like they want It." Wills sneers at those gents who think the secret of a 1 western band's success is a leader who wears a big hat and a loud shirt. "They don't know what the score Is," he said. "You gotta give 'em showmanship. You gotta work the crowd from the bandstand." Sure, Wills and his boys wear western clothes and boots. But no loud shirts and no ten-gallon hats, see. And who ever heard of a western western band leader fiddlin' on a $5000 violin? Bob bought it in Hollywood about six months ago. Before that he fiddled on a $3000 job. "I gave that away to a friend of mine down in Tay-xus." Yes, sir. Wills is In the big dough. Has a home in Hollywood, Hollywood, a farm in Tay-xus, a dairy ranch in Oklahoma and a lot of stocks and bonds. Also two horses which he has shipped wherever he goes. And when he goes riding he is sitting on a silver saddle which cost him another five grand. "For a fiddler," he says, done all right. I'm lucky, I guess." Wills started fiddlin' as a teenager teenager down in Amarillo, Texas, where he was born on a farm 38 years ago. It came sorta natural-like, with all those uncles and aunts fiddlin', too. First it was country dances, just Wills and a gee-tar player. Then pappy sent him to a barber's college In Fort Worth. "I caught a freight to get there," he remembers. But as a barber in Fort Worth he was more in demand as a fiddler at week-end dances. "That was during during the depression," he said. "Haircuts "Haircuts were 15 cents. I made more money in one night playin' the fiddle than I made all week cuttin' hair." So Wills left his barber's chair for good and organized a band. That was 14 years ago. Seems like western band leaders all run for governor of Oklahoma, eventually? but -Wills ain't gonna run for any political office. They asked him about it once down in Tulsa, but Wills grinned and said: 'No politics for me, buddy. I'm a fiddler." And as a' fiddler, Bob Wills is doing all right. (Copyright, 1944, NBA Service,; Inc.)

Clipped from
  1. The Bakersfield Californian,
  2. 05 May 1944, Fri,
  3. Page 18

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  • May 5th 1944 Bakersfield California

    tom333 – 26 Mar 2013

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