Category Archives: Hall of fame

Royce Franklin 2003

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Royce Franklin

Inducted in 2003

Melvin Royce Franklin was born March 28, 1930 at Dosier in West Texas. He was the second child of Major Lee and Inez Franklin. Being a son of one of the country’s legendary fiddlers, he was introduced to fiddle music and guitar playing early in life. At about six or seven years of age, his father gave him a small standard guitar (4 string) that had been redesigned in an attempt to make it into a tenor guitar. Then when he was nine, his father gave him an old Gibson guitar that he played until 1965. He did not take lessons, but watched other players and learned to play the many different chords on his own.

During high school days he played two live radio shows per day with his cousin, Louis Franklin, who is widely known today as one of Texas’s leading fiddle players. They were part of a group known as the D.G. Boys who did live shows on KRRV in Sherman. Then the same group would do another show on the same day, known as Eddie Miller and the Oklahomans and on these shows, Royce played the stand up bass as well as the guitar.Royce entered the U.S. Air Force in early 1948 and on May 1, of that year he married Loyce Stalcup of Denison. They have four children, two girls, Caryn Martin of Groves, TX. and Bettye Franklin of Henrietta, TX. Two sons, David of Venus, TX. andPaul of Burleson, TX. They have 8 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren.

On leaving the Air Force, Royce worked for 11 years for Convair in FT. Worth. In 1963 he took a job as a Supervisor with Conso Tool in Dallas and stayed there 20 years. In 1983, he began work in Dallas as a supervisor with Tri-City Tool and retired from there in 1995.

Throughout his life, Royce has enjoyed playing and listening to the music of Texas. He is always in demand as an accompanist at contests, jam sessions and recording sessions. He has recorded with many of Texas’s best fiddle players. He was one of the accompanist (along with his brother Ray) on Louis and Larry Franklin’s Keepsake Album and Matt and Danita Hartz with The Franklin’s album. Royce has won many accompanist contests and in 1988 he won the Favorite Accompanist Award of the Texas Old Time Fiddlers Association. This award, he says he is the proudest of because he was selected by vote, by the general membership of The Texas Old Time Fiddlers Association.

Royce and Loyce live at their very comfortable home in Roanoke, Texas. The house sits on three wooded acres, just back far enough back not to disturb anyone if a jam session gets into full swing.

Ray Franklin 2003

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Delmer Ray Franklin
Inducted in 2003

Born August 16th, 1932 to Major Lee and Thelma Inez Franklin in Shamrock Texas. He was raised in Denison Texas and started playing music with his dad (Major Franklin) at the very young age of five or six. His first instrument was the tenor banjo and later became proficient in bass and guitar. In January of 1949 Ray entered the United States Air Force and in 1950 �1951 he was stationed in Korea. During his years in the service he was stationed at Lackland Air Force Base and 1966 married Geraldine (Geri) Whitehead.

In 1968 Ray was sent to Vietnam to serve and was awarded the Bronze Star in 1969. After 20 years of military service, he retired in 1969 and settled in the San Antonio area. Upon his retirement he decided to go into automobile business and was and was a dealer until 1994.

During Ray’s service years, he played with several local bands around San Antonio Texas. In 1983 Ray started playing bass with the “Texas Top Hands” Western Swing band, whose bandleader is Ray Sezpanic. In 1992 The “Texas Top Hands” band was inducted into the Western Swing Hall of Fame in Austin Texas.Ray has been a champion guitarist at many major contests and has won several major titles. His list of accomplishments include: 1st PlaceTexas State Fiddlers’ Frolics,1st Place Texas Old Time Fiddlers Association Championship,1st Place Crockett World Champion,and 1st Place Red River Fiddle Fest. He has played with many famous fiddlers over the years and is always ready to play for a novice fiddler as well as a champion. He has been an undeniable asset both on and off stage for Texas Fiddling and anyone who has had the pleasure of his accompaniment.

Ray and Geri’s son Daniel Wayne (Dan) and his wife Alice have two children they are Daniel Jr., now 21 and Jessica, who is 12 years of age. Daniel Jr. and Jessica are Ray and Geri’s grand children.

Larry Franklin 2002

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Larry Franklin

Inducted in 2002

With two weeks of practice under his belt, he entered his first contest in Hale Center, Texas on July 4, 1961. He vividly remembers meeting and hearing Eck Robertson that day. He was disappointed to not win anything in the 18 and under division, but remembers Mike Soloman (Vernon’s son) splitting his second place prize money with him. Larry says this act of kindness kept him from giving up and he continued to play and enter contests. Several years later Larry was able to return the favor when he won a Ft. Worth contest with only one prize in his age group and split his winnings with Mike. There were fiddlers’ contests or jam sessions almost every weekend and Larry listened and learned from the greatest Fiddlers and Accompanists of our time.Like his father, Larry went on to win many fiddling contests culminating with the World Championship title in Crockett, Texas at the age of sixteen.

He credits his mother for teaching him not only to be humble in winning, but most importantly in losing. After a three year tour of duty in the United States Army (1972-1975) Larry began playing professionally with the Cooder Browne Band (1976-1980) the Larry Franklin Band (1980-1984) and Asleep at the Wheel (1984-1991). In 1991 Larry moved to Nashville, TN and began a career as a studio musician and has since recorded with many of country music’s biggest stars. He has won three Grammy for instrumental performances of the year in 1987, 1988 and 1999. The Academy of Country Music awarded him Fiddle Player of the Year” in 1997. In the Fall of 2001, he released his first solo instrumental album entitled “Now and Then” His internet website is: www.larry-franklin.com

Dale Morris 2001

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Dale Morris Sr.
Inducted in 2001
Listen to Morris play Velvet’s Waltz

Dale Morris was born in Sanger, Texas, a small town north of Denton and is the oldest of six children born to Laverne and Louise Morris. Dale grew up in a musical environment and developed an interest in music at a very early age. Dale’s first instrument was piano, however, through the years Dale later began playing guitar, then fiddle, Dale’s main instrument. Although Dale had been playing several years before reaching age eighteen, it is ironic, that until this time he had not been aware of the numerous great Texas style fiddlers who lived within a fifty-mile radius of him! Prior to this point in time, Dale played with various “bluegrass and country bands” around the Fort Worth – Dallas area.

Dale became aware, however and will forever feel a debt of gratitude to the great legendary Texas fiddler, Sleepy Johnson for his vital part in this. Dale will never forget the night, while playing at a nightclub in north Fort Worth, when a couple in the audience introduced themselves as Sleepy and Sally Johnson. Sleepy, of course, was a famous fiddler, having worked with Bob Wills and The Texas Playboys for many years. Also accompanying Sleepy and Sally were Drew and Jewell Garner. Jewell was the sister of legendary Texas fiddler Louis Franklin! Sleepy invited Dale to a “jam session” that was to be held at the home of Werner Cain. Sleepy went on to tell Dale of the different fiddlers who were likely to be there; Norman and Vernon Soloman, Benny Thomason, Orville Burns, Texas Shorty, Major Franklin, on and on. Ironically, Dale was unfamiliar with most of them at this time, except for Texas Shorty, of whom Dale had recordings (by, the way, when asked Dale will quickly tell you that one of his very first heroes was Texas Shorty).
Dale had no idea, of course, at how important it would be for him to attend this jam session. It is very possible that Dale might not have attended this jam session had it not been for the persistence of Sleepy, who came by the Ford dealership in Fort Worth where Dale worked and insisted he attend. Sleepy knew how important this would be to Dale.

Dale did attend the jam session and to say it was a “revelation” would be an understatement! NEVER HAD DALE heard so much great fiddling! Not only was his hero, the legendary Texas Shorty in attendance, so were great fiddlers such as Norman and Vernon Soloman, Benny Thomasson, Major Franklin, Orville Burns, Dick Barrett, Louis Franklin, Garland Gainer, Claude Henson, etc. etc. on and on. While many current fiddlers, at the time of this writing, know of the past greats only via tape or other media, Dale feels very fortunate in the fact that he has personally known many of them.

Dale won his first fiddling contest in 1967 and being really ” bitten by the bug”, so to speak, Dale became an avid participant in fiddling contests across Texas and in 1972, won his first Texas State Championship. He went on to repeat in 1973 and also won again in 1978 and 1979. Also, over the years Dale has won several other prestigious contests, among these, the World’s Championship, Crockett Texas, in 1979, The Super Bowl of Fiddling in 1979, Colorado State Championship in 1986, The Western Open Old Time 1990.
He has also had the extreme honor of serving as judge in many of our nations most prestigious fiddle contests.

Dale’s love for his music, however, was not limited to strictly contest fiddling. By the early 1970s, Dale was working in the band of Billy Gray and the “Cowtowners”. Working in this band afforded Dale the opportunity to work with the likes of Wynn Stewart, Sammi Smith, Johnny Rodriquez, Carl Smith, Leon Rausch and Red Stegall. By 1975 Dale moved to Nashville Tennessee and became a member of Stonewall Jackson’s “Minutemen”. Since then Dale has also been a member of The Marty Robbins’ band, Ray Price’s Cherokee Cowboys and Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys. In 1981 Dale was named the 17th member of the legendary “Sons of The Pioneers”, the group founded by Roy Rogers in the early 1930s.

Dale became a “full-time” music teacher by the early 1990s and at present he and his wife Tobi own and operate a teaching studio in Boyd Texas. They currently have a clientele of students, ranging in age from 2 years of age to 72, of whom they are very proud.

Randy Elmore 2000

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Randy Elmore

Inducted in 2000
Listen to Elmore play Say Old Man

Randy Elmore was born in Fort Worth, Texas, on the 13th of June, 1954, to James and Glee Elmore. The oldest of six children, Randy started out on the guitar at age nine. At age eleven he picked up the fiddle for the first time. From the very first awkward pull of the how and the squeak of the string Randy knew he had found the instrument that would allow him to convey his feelings to the folks in the audience. Randy says, “There was something unexplainable about the sound that came out of that fiddle, and to this day I’ve never been able to put it down”.

Randy played for the first two years under the instruction of Mr. Kenneth Pitts, who was once the fiddler for the Lightcrust Doughboys. It was about this time that he met fiddlemaker and repairman Mr. L.T. Childress, who introduced Randy to the world of contest fiddling. Through Mr. Childress he met fiddlers Bill Gilbert and Norman Solomon who would become Randy’s main teachers for the next few years. Once Randy obtained his driver’s license he started going to the homes of Vernon Solomon, Benny Thomasson, Claude Henson, Sleepy Johnson, Major and Lewis Franklin, E.J. Hopkins and many, many other fiddlers, who were always willing to teach a young fiddler a new tune or a new way to play a tune. Randy said “I’ve never heard a fiddler that I couldn’t learn something from. They have all got their own ways of playing and they’re all good.”

Throughout Randy’s high school years he played square dances with Vernon Solomon and went to every fiddle contest he could get to. In 1970 Randy met fiddler Johnny Gimble, who introduced him to western swing music and playing in a band. Because of Randy’s immediate love for this type of playing, upon graduating from high school, he joined his first band, “The Ramblin Rhythm Band”. In 1973 he joined Warren Edwards Band then went on to the Stagecoach Band in Fort Worth, Texas, which were both western swing dance bands.

In August of 1975, Randy joined Red Stagall and the Coleman County Cowboys and oured the United States and Europe until the end of 1980. In April of 1981 Randy went to work for Lone Star Gas Co. as a heavy equipment operator and later became supervisor of a pipeline construction crew. After three years of pipelining Randy found himself traveling more for the gas company than he did when he was playing music for a living. Randy was offered a job with country singer Reba McEntire, so he quit pipelining and went back on the road playing the fiddle. After eleven months Randy was offered a job with singer Mel Tillis which lasted until the end of 1992.

At the beginning of 1993 Randy went to work for himself as a freelance musician doing recording sessions, concerts, shows, and dances under his own name. Randy also teaches fiddle camp workshops around the country for six weeks every year. Randy has five albums to his credit and has played fiddle, mandolin, and guitar on about 100 albums for other singers and musicians.Randy won the Texas State Fiddling Championship in 1975, 76, and won the World Fiddling Championship in 1978and 1984. Throughout his career he has won first place and grand champion in over 500 contests. In 1998 Randy was voted “Instrumentalist of the Year” at theLincoln County Cowboy Symposium in Ruidoso, New Mexico. In 1999 Randy was inducted into the “Western Swing Hall of Fame” in Sacramento, California.

In 1973 Randy married Deborah Allbright and they have two sons, Jody and Jerry. At this writing Randy and Deborah also have three grandsons. Randy has achieved Texas, United States, and World titles for his fiddling abilities and readily admits that his talents are a gift from God. Randy has said many times, “as long as the good Lord will allow me to make a sound on the fiddle and folks will keep coming to hear me play, I’m going to keep fiddling.”

April 2000

Jake Glidewell 1999

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Jake Glidewell

Inducted in 1999
Listen to Glidewell play Ragtime Annie

orn to Russell and Sophronia Glidewell in Bells, Texas, in Grayson County on June 5, 1909 and was raised on a farm located about six miles from the Red River. Jake is the oldest of eight children with three brothers and four sisters. In those days, lots of old time square dances were held at homes all up and down the Red River. It was here that Jake first learned to play some on the banjo and then learned to second on the guitar. He also taught his younger brother to second on the guitar.

The fiddler in the area where Jake grew up was Uncle Bill Givens and it was from him that Jake learned to fiddle some of the old tunes like “Maggie”, “Nellie Grey”, “Red River Valley” plus a few waltzes and hoe-downs. Jake recalls that “Uncle Bill was getting old and very contrary and might just at any time get mad at someone and box up his fiddle and go home”. By chopping cotton for 50 cents a day, Jake earned enough money to order a fiddle of his own from Sears and Roebuck Company. It cost $9.50 and was the best one they had at that time. The price also included a bow, an extra set of Bell brand strings, a box of rosin, and the postage.

Jake’s mother made a canvas case for the fiddle from an old cotton sack, which he still has. He rode to the dances on a mule, carrying the fiddle in the canvas bag. When Jake was about 15 and shortly after he got his own fiddle, Uncle Bill Givens passed away, which left Jake the only one for miles around that played the fiddle. Sometimes he earned a couple of dollars playing for dances. The usual charge was 15 cents a square and 10 cents extra to waltz, rag, or round dance. This was mostly on credit and Jake says, “I guess I really embarrassed a lot of those poor old farm boys right in front of their girl friends but they would usually pay up when I asked for it!” Jake had two young friends who played mandolin and guitar with him at these dances and they had many good times.

Jake met Bessie Lou Tucker in 1929 when his sisters brought her home with them from school. Jake said “She was kinda young then, but I kept my eye on her until she grew up”. They were married on August 14, 1932. They have two children, Frank and Cotton Glidewell, five grandchildren and three great grandchildren. They were married almost 66 years. Bessie passed away May 22, 1998.

In 1928, Jake moved to west Texas and didn’t play any more. He worked in the shipyards at Orange Texas as an electrician during the war. He moved to Victoria in 1951 to work for E. I. DuPont as an electrician. He had a stroke 1969 and was losing the use of his left arm and the fingers on both hands. During therapy, which followed an operation in Houston, his doctor found out that he used to play the fiddle and told him that it would be very helpful if he would begin playing again. Jake says, “I had to go to contests where the fiddlers were to learn how to play again. I really love to hear all fiddlers, young and old. In fact, I even enjoy the very worst ones for they all do their best. Country musicians are the finest people I know.”

Jake plays in many contests and often wins but considers the best reward he gets for his playing, is the joy expressed by persons who live in the rest homes in Victoria where he plays often. One of the most promising aspects of old time fiddling, and one which pleases Jake very much, is the increasing numbers of young fiddlers who are playing this type music. Jake has helped several youngsters get started with the fiddle and always gives encouragement to those just starting. When he hears a youngster playing “Fifty Years Ago Waltz” and other old tunes, he knows that those tunes will never be forgotten and it is his hope that there will be many more interested young people who will keep fiddling going on for many years.
Jake is an active member in the Masonic and Odd Fellows lodges and a member of the Second Baptist church. In June, 1974, Jake retired from E. I. DuPont and began enjoying the fiddling he loves even more. He recommends it as the very best thing to keep from getting old and says, “I am going to try to keep on playing until I am at least a 100 and if I don’t make it, just say I tried!”

Omega Burden 1999

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Omega Burden
Inducted in 1999
Listen to Omega-Guitar/ Major Franklin on Fiddle “Durang’s Horne Pipe”

Omega was born in 1913 in Gordanville,Texas. raised on his dad’s ranch called “The Wolf Ranch” in Cedar Mills, Texas.

He was one of seven children in their family, consisting of two brothers and four sisters. Omega was raised with a firm hand by his mom and did chores. Upon leaving home and starting a family of his own. He met Major Franklin in a little place between Whitewright, Tx. and Bells, Tx. and they struck up a friendship that lasted till the end. He did Farming around Trenton for a while then found a better job at Central Freight in Dallas in the early forties.

Sometime in the forties he found a better job in Dennison Texas, working for the Katy Rail Road. It this was the time frame he bought his famous guitar, which Bobby Christman now owns. As best recollection of the price, by his son F.L. Burden, he paid somewhere between $85-$125 for it then and that was a pretty steep price for a guitar back then. He worked for the railroad and was Yard Master when he retired.

There are many stories about Omega but the one no can deny is that he has inspired many a back up guitarist across the state and the nation.

 

Bill Northcutt 1998

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Bill M. Northcutt
Inducted in 1998
Listen to Northcutt play Forked Deer

Billy M. Northcutt was born to Harmon and Louise Northcutt  on May 9, 1935, on a farm in Crystal City, Texas.  He went to school there and on his first day of school during his sophomore year of high school he came home with an old fiddle.  His mother asked, “How did you pay for it?”  He replied:  “I gave him dollar down and promised to pay a dollar a week.”

They lived in a small house and had to put up with a lot of noisy fiddle practice but it paid off and they became very proud of him.

He graduated from high school in 1953 and went to work for a seismograph crew. With his first paycheck he bought his mother a pair of boudoir lamps and an “Heirloom of Tomorrow” electric clock.

In 1956, he joined the Air Force.  After boot camp he was stationed at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi.  After his honorable discharge in 1960, in Fort Worth Texas he went to work for Convair, which later became General Dynamics.

While in Fort Worth, he met and became friends with Benny Tomasson, Major Franklin, Lewis Franklin, Vernon and Norman Soloman.  All influenced and helped with his Texas style fiddling.

In 1962 he moved to Houston and went to work for H & H Music Company where he stayed until 1976.  In 1976 his mother moved in with him and they jointly opened a small music store he called Fiddle & Bow Music Co.  He worked and was happy there until his sudden demise on October 6, 1992 at home.

Bill played all stringed instruments plus the organ, piano and bagpipes. He played Celtic, Scottish, Swedish and Texas Old Time Fiddling music.  He traveled all of the United States to various fiddle contests and music festivals.

Bill was a friend and teacher to many.

Jimmie Don Bates 1997

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Jimmie Don Bates
Inducted in 1997

It is fitting that the man who would come to practically dominate Texas fiddle contests was born in the capital city of Austin, on January 1, 1965, the first day of a new generation.Jimmie Don Bates was the only child of Valeara and Jimmie D. Bates, who not only instilled their child with the desire to compete and to be the best he could be, but who provided the tools and training to be the champion he has become. Jimmie Don started playing the fiddle when he was 11. His father-who had lost the use of his own left hand in a horse and buggy accident as a child-tirelessly took young Jimmie Don to teachers and contests.

Jimmie Don learned from Garland Gainer, a New Mexico native who had learned the Texas style himself from the great Norman Solomon. Twice a week, Vernon Worrell would patiently beat a drum until Jimmie Don picked up the rhythm. When he was 13, Jimmie Don met Bennie Thomason at the State Championship contest in Hallettsville, and accepted his invitation to visit and study from him at Red Oak, Texas. The next year, Jimmie Don became the youngest person ever to win the Texas Old Time Fiddler’s Association championship contest at its annual convention in Burnet, and he has won that contest many times since. 1983 was a pivotal year for Jimmie Don Bates. He lost his father, graduated from high school, and won the Texas state championship. He began teaching fiddle, but had to work at various jobs to supplement his income. In the ensuing years, Jimmie Don continued the path his parents worked so hard to guide him towards. In 1987, he became the third Texan to win the national championship in Weiser, Idaho. He has won the world championship contest at Crockett, Texas five times in a row, and he has won the Texas state championship contest seven times.

Jimmie Don now lives in Austin, Texas. In 1995, Jimmie Don was elected President of the Texas Old Time Fiddlers Association. He has now taught 83 people the Texas style of playing fiddle or guitar, and it is obvious that Texas fiddling will dominate Jimmie Don Bates, the first of a new generation of Texas fiddlers, for all his years to come.

Forrest Craig 1996

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Forrest H. Craig
Inducted in 1996

Forrest H. Craig was born in Joplin, Missouri, March 28, 1920. As the eleventh and youngest child of Charles and Addie Craig, he learned, early on to love a crowd. He also knew, early on, how much he loved fiddles and their music. He’ll tell you he took hours and hours of lessons to learn to play, but the lessons just didn’t quite, take to him.

As he grew up in Oklahoma, and later, moved to the oil patches of West Texas, Lake Charles, Louisiana, and Pasadena, Texas, Forrest built his reputation as a hard worker. For thirty years he represented the Union of Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers, International. In 1940, he married the late Barbara Little of San Antonio, and together, they loved and provided for two children, Charlie and Keran Sue.

It was on trips between Corpus Christi and New Orleans that Forrest tried his hand at making his first fiddle. Maybe he thought it could be improved upon, for it was the first of 121 fiddles he has now made. (And, it must have been a lot of trips to New Orleans to make that first instrument, because he says it takes about 200 hours to make a fiddle right). For the neck, back and sides, he uses maple wood. The top comes from spruce, but the true measure of a fiddle is in its tone and its quality of workmanship.As a member of the International Violin Makers Association, Forrest has won many top honors, including four Grand Championships.

For many years, Forrest has come to Hallettsville to enjoy the Texas State Championship Fiddlers’ Frolics and, with his wife and childhood friend Earline, has proven an enthusiastic and appreciative supporter of the contest. In 1990, to encourage youngsters to perfect the art of fiddle playing, he donated one of his handmade fiddles to the winners of the Freshman Division of 15 years old and under. Now, a sought-after prize, a Craig fiddle is donated again this year, for the 9th time. This gift, so painstakingly-created, gives young competitors extra-incentive to play the best of their abilities-abilities honed with practice, concentration, energy and family support. The First Place, one-time-only prize to the winning contestant has increased participation and interest in this age-group of fiddlers. When the “Frolics” was first organized, only four contestants enter the Freshman Division. Last year more than 40 youngsters competed.

With his skill in creating championship instruments and his devotion to perpetuating the legacy of fiddle music, particularly in Texas, Forrest H. Craig takes a rightful place in Texas Fiddler’s Hall of Fame.