• Dirt Road Anthems

Honoring the Late Bob Wills

On this day in 1975 we lost one of the greats.

Known as the co-founder of Western Swing, Bob Wills introduced the world to a new genre of music that is still alive and well today.

Wills formed the Texas Playboys in 1934 and began their career in Texas. After gaining popularity in Texas, Wills decided to relocate the group to Oklahoma. First to Oklahoma City and then settling in Tulsa. He began broadcasting shows on the KVOO radio station from the now historic Cain's Ballroom. The venue is now known as the "The Home of Bob Wills".

As The Home of Bob Wills and The Texas Playboys from 1935 to 1942, the ballroom was especially significant for popularizing a new sound of western music called western swing, a form of country and western that combined jazz, hillbilly, boogie, blues, big band swing, rhumba, mariachi and jitterbug music. Weekly dances, a midnight radio show and a daily noon-hour program were played by Bob Wills during what are remembered as his “glory years.”

Bob Wills is remembered as “The King of Western Swing.” He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1978, into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999 and received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007 for his significant contributions to American music from the 1930s through the 1960s. During his career, Wills wrote and recorded at least 470 songs, including “Take Me Back to Tulsa”.

From the 1970's until his 2002 death, Waylon Jennings performed a song called "Bob Wills is Still the King".

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