Bill King 1994

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Bill King
Inducted in 1994

Bill King was born August 1, 1909 in Cuervo, New Mexico, the son of Louis P. King and Vashti Skinner King. Bill was two years old when he moved to Texas. He began to fiddle at the age of ten or twelve years. Tow of his older brothers and sister were also fiddle and guitar pickers. Bill met his wife, Frankie and married her when he was twenty and she was sixteen. Their love of music became a common interest. In her family, a fiddle was “just something to help you dance”. They lived on a farm in the Texas Panhandle during the Great Depression and began playing for neighborhood dances mostly for free and using five cent guitar strings for Frankie’s guitar.

During those years they had two sons; Bill Jr. and Bob. Their life was full of growing cotton and raising their family, but also filled with hard luck, much music and good friends. Bill and Frankie worked as a team with a piano player in this three-piece band, playing for private country club dances, as well as square dance clubs. They also played for country and western music dances and entertainments. Many hours were devoted to playing for benefit shows, for cancer crusades and heart research funds.

Then, show music gave way to fiddle music! Bill took over the chairmanship of the annual March 17th St. Patrick’s Celebration at Shamrock, Texas, which included a fiddle contest. From then on he changed his style of fiddling to fiddle contest numbers, and he was soon in the winning circle of fiddlers at various contests throughout the state. It was natural for him to pick up the fiddle-he never had a formal lesson, but he has to his credit 143 trophies and plaques to show for his wins in contests. Frankie played guitar for him in every fiddle contest he ever entered. Bill King was inducted into the New Mexico State Hall of Fame in 1991.

He was instrumental in organizing the large fiddle contest at Wellington and other locations in West Texas. The instrument on which he played for many years was the first fiddle that Major Franklin brought to the Panhandle in 1926. In 1974 Bill and Frankie retired and moved into Shamrock. They spent their entire life playing and listening to other fiddlers-either in their homes or their fiddler friends homes. He once said: “The ten best fiddlers live within two hundred miles of the Dallas-Fort Worth area”. (which included him) “Fiddlers are like family: They will do their best to beat you in a contest, but if you have trouble, they’ll give you their prize money”. Bill King died January 2, 1990 in Shamrock, Texas.