created a new art form called western swing and for
over four decades influenced American popular music in
general and country and western in particular.
Reared in poverty among
unlettered white and black musicians who expressed
their deepest emotions in music, he learned to
perform and compose from his heart and soul.
Like those musicians, he was
concerned more with musical feeling than with
musical propriety. This folk environment
contributed to Wills' uninhibited, free,
experimental, and often radical approach to music
that put him years ahead of his time.
Just how far ahead he really
was is evident in the fact that his music appealed
to both the age of jazz and swing era and continues
to be popular in these times of rock and country and
Bob Wills began his career as a
fiddler in 1915 and ended it at a recording session
for United Artist fifty-eight years later, in
He made his first record in
1929 and his last forty-four years later. His
total output in that period was over five hundred
and fifty recordings.
From the horse and carriage to
the space age, from the telephone to telstar, from
the model T Ford to President Gerald R. Ford, few
performers, in music or any other art, have appealed
to the public through such a vast and changing
period in history.
How he and his music could
sustain this response for over a half a century is a
human as well as a musical enigma.
Townsend - Stars of Country Music