Category Archives: Hall of fame

Terry Morris 1989

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Terry Morris
Inducted in 1989
Listen to Morris play Shuck in the Bush

Terry Morris was born at Ft. Worth, Texas on March 6, 1956, the youngest son in the family of six children of Louise and Laverne Morris. Terry grew up near the Greenwood community north of Decatur, Texas. Early in life, Terry exhibited an unusual talent. He gave his first public performance at the age of two-singing “Cotton Fields Back Home” at a school program in Ft. Worth. This led to playing the mandolin and guitar; mostly dance type music. His brother, Dale, became interested in the fiddle when Terry was about seven, and would sometimes take Terry along to contests. Terry never got to play much, but he soon realized WHY! It was because he could not play!

At the time, it was hard to swallow, so he concentrated on the guitar becoming very proficient. He was made aware of the difference between fiddling and “sawing”-when he heard Benny Thomasson playing at a jam session. His first competition was at a contest at Grosebeck, Texas in May, 1972. He did not win, but his ability was very apparent-so much so-that Velda Fryer implored him to come to Hallettsville in 1973 and play at the Texas State Championship Fiddlers’ Frolics. Terry thought she was making fun of him! Within a period of less than two years, Terry had reached the pinnacle of success. He spent his entire time traveling around the state; staying with his many fiddle friends and absorbing everything possible that would contribute to an improved style of Texas fiddling, having masters as teachers, he grew up with the finest music in the world.

Terry went on to win innumerable contests and was truly “King of the Hill”, henceforth. Terry was a real gentleman, and would never show up a fiddler of lesser stature. When the chips were down, he was unbeatable. While loving to play pranks with a fine sense of humor, he was still endowed with a serious side and an unfailing sense of fair play. Among his Credits: Texas Old Time Fiddlers Association Winner, 5 years Crockett World Champion Fiddler, 3 successive years Grand Masters Champion at Nashville. Tennessee Texas State Champion Fiddlers’ Frolics. Hallettsville. Texas 3 successive years

His untimely death on September 7, 1988, at the age of thirty-two years left a void that will never be filled. He left a legacy to his son TONY JOE MORRIS of the Ft. Worth area.

By Cliff Fryer

Ed Junot 1988

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Ed Junot
Inducted in 1988
Listen to Junot play Cajun Tune

Ed Junot was born June 29, 1932 in Rayne Louisiana to Volcar and Lena Junot and has three sisters.

Ed served four years in the Air Force from 1951 to 1955 in Japan, Greenland and the United States. He married in 1955 to the former Patsy Sablatura and has four children; Russell, Keith, Randy and Michelle; also daughter-in-law Nancy and two grandchildren Rusty and Heather Junot.(Russell and Keith’ respectively). They moved to Texas from Louisiana in 1961. He worked as an electrician and played in the following bands: The Melody Ramblers, The Southernaires and The Texas Valley Boys. Later he formed his own group – Ed Junot “The Fiddlin’ Cajun” and The Travelers.

Ed had entered many fiddling contests, winning Grand Champion at the Houston Livestock Show in 1974 and 1975; Second place in 1981 and 1982. He also won the Wharton County Fair Grand Champion in 1978 and 1979.

His unique style of playing the fiddle left handed with a right handed fiddle has passed down to his son Keith who plays the fiddle the same way. Russell and Randy play the guitar and Michelle plays a clarinet In the Wharton County Jr. College Band.

Ed Junot retired from playing in his band on New Years Eve 1980, but resumed playing later with other bands. He participated in the Country Music Benefit Shows wherever he was asked to perform. He always enjoyed the Fiddlers Frolics in Hallettsville for promoting the Cajun Music that he was brought up on and dearly loved. His last performance was on stage at the Fort Bend County Opry December 26, 1987 in Rosenburg, Texas.

A great husband, father. grandfather. musician and friend, he will be missed by all who loved him.

1932 – 1987

 

 

Jim “Texas Shorty” Chancellor 1988

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Jim “Texas Shorty” Chancellor
Inducted in 1988
Listen to Chancellor play Grey Eagle

Jim “Texas Shorty” Chancellor began his musical journey at the age of seven when his daddy brought home a mandolin and told Shorty and his brother, Allen, that it would go to the first son who learned to play it. Shorty devoted most of the next six years to “pickin’ the mandolin”. Around 1956 a landmark occurred in Shorty’s musical development when he became acquainted with the legendary Bennie Thomasson, who was the then current World Champion Fiddler. Bennie’s unique style of fiddling immediately attracted Shorty and he soon gave up the mandolin and poured all his efforts into old-time fiddling .

Three years later in 1959, under the tutorage of Bennie, Shorty won the World’s Fiddle Festival. In 1960 he went to New York to appear on a national television quiz show “To Tell The Truth” as the youngest fiddler to hold the World’s Championship. He became the second fiddler in the history of the World’s Fiddle Festival to attain undefeated status by winning the contest three consecutive times.

Succeeding years have seen Shorty win hundreds of fiddle contests throughout the nation, among them the National Fiddle Championship and the Texas State Championship on several different occasions. In the early 1960’s, through the efforts of an avid fan, a record company was established to produce Shorty’s music. The circulation of the fiddle records over the years has taken his music to every part of the nation. Old time fiddle music has been the first love of Shorty’s life for many years and he has encouraged young fiddlers to take up the art. Public awareness of this great music has grown to the extent that a music, which was once threatened with extinction, has been revived and is once again solidly entrenched in the entertainment world.

 

Orville Burns 1987

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William Orville Burns
Inducted in 1987
Listen to Burns play Martha Campbell

William Orville Burns was born May 2, 1921, to Pearl Viola and James Delbert “Bert” Burns, in Calvin Oklahoma.

Orville received his first fiddle at the age of five as a gift from his dad for a “job well done” and he chose the fiddle over the harmonica. He spent many hours (with instruction) from his father, who demanded excellence developing his unique bowing technique while patterning his tunes after the records of Eck Robertson and Irvin Solomon.

As a child, Orville played in a band with his two brothers Joe and Bob, and his sister Bonnie. The band played for the Kiwanis Club and had their own radio show when Orville was nine years of age. At 12, he was offered a European Tour with his fiddle, but his father thought that he was too young.

Orville attended Capitol Hill High School in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where he graduated in 1949. While at CHHS, he was a member of the high school orchestra and the A cappella choir, singing tenor in the boys quartet.

In 1942, Orville married Lylous Jeanne Webb and they had three children: William Orville, Jr., Cheryl Jeanne and Debra Janis. This same year, Orville entered the U.S. army where he served as Sergeant Technician during World War II. While overseas he was able to obtain” several “Old Vintage” violins which he sent back to the United States and later gave most of them to close friends.

In 1950, Orville formed a Square Dance Band in Oklahoma City called the “Mid-Westerners”. His brother Joe played guitar for the band, and they were very popular in the State of Oklahoma for ten years or more. At one time they played for eight dances in one week (two on Sunday) while holding down a full-time job as a “working” Shop Foreman for a Welding business in Oklahoma City where he was employed for fourteen years. During this period of time he appeared once over National Network Television the Today Show, hosted by Dave Garroay.

Orville was made acquainted (through an old friend and fellow fiddle player, Claude Molock) with such old Master fiddlers as Oscar Harper, Irvin Solomon, and Benny Thomasson, and he met the Master fiddle player Major Franklin through his close friend Omega Burden.

In the 60’s Orville moved to Wichita Falls, Texas. He brought to Texas such tunes as Choctaw, Blue Eagle, Hot Springs, Shortenin’ Bread, and he is most famous for his rendition of “Sally Goodin”, Say Ol’ Man, Billy in the Low Ground, George Booker, and Martha Campbell.

Although he played in several Texas State Fiddle Contests, he was more interested In the “jam sessions” which were held frequently at various fiddle players’ homes. I can still remember Benny Thomasson and Omega Burden knocking on the door at two o’clock in the morning and saying “Ay Doggies, Orville, get up and let’s fiddle.

Orville would like to recognize his son Orville, Jr. who plays the guitar and his daughter Debra who plays the piano for the many long hours of practice as they played rhythm to his fiddle as he perfected his tunes and stayed in practice.

(Written by: Cheryl Dill, 1987)

Bryant Houston 1986

bryant_houstonBryant Houston
Inducted in 1986
Listen to Houston play Red Lion Hornepipe

Bryant Houston was born April 6, 1911 about two and one-half miles southeast of Cisco, Texas on the Leon River. He was the oldest of two children born to Annie Helen and Captain Poe Houston.Starting at the age of 14, and being blessed with an excellent teacher, his father, Bryant remembers that along about 1925 the whole family took to the road playing at theaters and school houses in West Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Kansas. They would put on a musical concert with an amateur contest and end the performance with a fiddle contest. His Dad would award a fiddle to the winner, who was sometimes judged by the audience.This was quite a prize because most winners were usually awarded ribbons. The family would head-quarter in a small town and play all the theaters within a 100-mile radius.

Shortly after this, the family headed west to Long Beach, California, where they established themselves in the Silver Spray Twin Ballroom doing mostly floor shows. After a few sessions on the West Coast, they moved back to Texas doing road shows on their return. In 1931 or 1932, Bryant decided he would learn to read music. Being very impressed by his idol, Fritz Kreisler, but lessons were five dollars a session and Money was hard to come by, he turned to the more popular musicians like Curley Fox, Lum Sellors and ‘Big Howdy Forrester’, and later played a concertwith Georgia Slim at the Arcadia Theater in Dallas, Texas.

Bryant feels that part of being an accomplished musician is having a good instrument when possible–preferably an old Italian one with those big, round full tones. In 1973 he was invited by ‘Big Howdy Forrester’ to play in the Grand Masters Championship Contest at Nashville, Tennessee, but Bryant was much too busy playing the Good Texas Contests–trying to beat the Morris Boys, the Franklins, Wade Stockton, Bill Gilbert, Straley AIlsup and Carl Hazelwood. Having known Bryant for several years, many people have always thought his Limerock, Kelly Waltz and Grey Eagle were hard to beat. Mr. Kendrick also relates that when they were both 14 years old, he lost the first fiddle contest he ever played in, to Mr. Houston. After more than 60 years of playing in innumerable contests, the World will long remember Bryant Houston’s contribution to Texas Fiddle music. To his friends, Bryant Houston is at home at this time in the De Leon Nursing Home in De Leon, Texas. (Courtesy of Mr. Bob Kendrick, San Angelo, Texas)

A.R. Westmorland 1985

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A. R. Westmoreland
Inducted in 1985
Listen to Westmoreland play Beaumont Rag

A.R. (Ausy Rufus) Westmoreland was born to John Christfer and Lovie Kathryn Munn Westmoreland on June 2, 1895 on a farm near Gorman, Texas. He was the fourth son and grew up in a family of fiddlers; his father, three brothers and two sisters all playing the fiddle. His father took him to many country dances where he also performed.

On June 12, 1915 Ausy and Ambry Melba McCleskey were married and after the death of his father, settled near his mother at Rule, Texas. His profession was paper hanging and painting, with fiddling for dances a second occupation. In 1929, Ausy decided to help his widowed sister run her ranch near Paducah, Texas. In 1936 he moved his family to Houston, Texas. For several years he spent his entire efforts to his paper-hanging and painting; but in the 60s after hearing a contest in Crockett, Texas, started fiddling again and became quite successful–winning many first places.

Mrs. Westmoreland passed away in July 1983. Since then he entertains himself by playing the fiddle–sometimes to the distress of his companion, “Chico”–a brute of a canine weighing at least 32 ounces.

He has one sister, Mrs. Lona Richards of Paducah, Texas, two sons, Dr. Jack Westmoreland, Houston, Texas and James Westmoreland, San Antonio, Texas. A third son, Travis, passed away in 1984. He also has 9 grandchildren ranging in ages 3 years to 40 years, and 3 great grandchildren.

 

 

 

Straley Allsup 1984

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Straley Allsup was born April 4, 1893, to Ophelia and Allen Allsup. There were 11 children, but only seven, all boys, lived to be grown; Straley was sixth of the seven. He was born on the Allsup farm about two miles East of Gustine, Comanche County, Texas, on the Leon River. His father, Allen was told by Mr. 0. Straley while in Comanche one day that in case his child on the way should be a boy; if he would name the boy after him, he would give him his fiddle. The fiddle is still in the Straley family, but when Straley Allsup grew up he had the privilege of playing that fiddle and carrying it with him many times. Straley’s mother was a fiddle player and he can remember her tuning the fiddle for him as he sat on the floor and played it.

When he was a very small boy he and his brother picked up pecans on the home place and sold them in Comanche. His share was six dollars. He had his eye on a fiddle in Mr. Black’s store window. He went to the store and even though the fiddle cost more, Mr. Black let him have it for his six dollars. Straley was told in later years by an older friend that he remembered seeing him play his first public appearance at school when he was very small.

He and his brother, Ewell, who played the piano entertained as teenagers. His brothers were all musicians. As a teenager, Straley played for many public gatherings. He started breaking horses and riding in rodeos. He traveled with “Texas Kidd’s Rodeo” for awhile and played for the platform dances after the rodeo. Straley married Joe Bell Kelso of Mills County in 1916 and he and her brother, Walter, before known as “Peg” began playing together. They played twin fiddles. The three of them, Straley, Joe Bell and Peg traveled horse back to the gatherings and dances that they played. In 1918, the fiddling was interrupted for about three weeks when a daughter, Vane, came along. Then Straley buttoned his overcoat around the baby on his horse, while Joe Bell carried the fiddle on hers and Peg followed on his horse carrying the guitar. Straley farmed in the day time and fiddled at night.

In 1925, Straley decided to quit farming and went to San Antonio to barber school. He then moved into Gustine where he operated his barber shop and Joe Bell had the first beauty shop in Gustine in the same building. She soon sold her beauty shop equipment but Straley barbered more than 50 years. The Fiddle contest became a part of Straley’s life in the 1930’s. He has played in contests all over the state of Texas and in Louisiana, Oklahoma, and New Mexico.

In 1964 Straley was in an automobile accident and had one leg broken in two places. He was in a wheel chair for several months, but even though he may have felt a little discouraged at times, with the help of his wife and his strong determination, he led an almost normal life through this. He is a strong believer in prayer and never forgets to be thankful for a good doctor and a helpmate who was always there. His wife pushed him in the wheel chair to the barbershop and he sat on a high stool with the injured leg resting on a lower one and cut hair. At the close of the day, Joe Bell was again present to assist him on the journey a about one block home. He never missed a fiddlin’ contest, even though he couldn’t walk. He was lifted wheel chair and all to the bandstand many times. After his wife passed away in October 1968, it seemed Straley could not go on in a field of which she had been so much a part, but with the help of his fiddling friends, “Fiddlin’ Family” in his own words, he has been able to carry on.

In May 1971, Straley was given the title of “The fastest man on the draw with a fiddle bow in the country” in the Athen Daily Review after he had won the Athens Championship in his age group for the fifth consecutive year. He was World Champion in his age group at Crockett, Texas, three times. He has several trophies and plaques for his winnings at the Texas State Championship Fiddler’s Frolics in Hallettsville. He became Texas Old Time Fiddler’s Association State Champion in his age group at the age of 85, and has won awards as the oldest Fiddler in a number of contests. Straley was interviewed twice by Tumbleweed Smith on the “Sound of Texas” on radio, appeared on “The Eyes of Texas” on television and has been on several televised contests, including National T.V. recognition at Belton, Texas. He is now a resident of Western Hill Nursing Home in Comanche, Texas, where he enjoys his friends and listens to fiddle records including his own album made when he was 83. His most recent public recognitions is an article including his picture in the December 1983 – January1984 Issue of Caring, News Magazine for Texas Health Care Association. Straley was 91 on April 4, 1984.

Eck Robertson 1983

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Alexander “Eck” Campbell Robertson was born November 20, 1887 in Delaney, Madison County, Arkansas; but moved to Texas with his family when he was three years old. His father, T. C. Robertson, ran a small farm and also served as community preacher. At the age of five, Eck took up musical instruments; working first with a fiddle he made himself from a long-necked gourd and a tanned cat hide. As he grew older, his proficiency increased and so did his versatility as he learned to play banjo and guitar.

Eck Robertson was among the very first individuals to make recordings during the phonograph industry’s first hesitant and casual encounter with country music. In 1922 Robertson traveled to Virginia to play for a Civil War Veteran Reunion. On the spur of the moment, he decided to go to New York to make some records. The two numbers were Sally Goodin’ and Arkansas Traveler. In1923, Robertson performed on WPAB Dallas Radio Station. These radio performances may well have been the first by a folk musician who had earlier recorded for commercial records–earning him the title, “Victor Artist” by the Fort Worth Star Telegram. In 1930 a Victor talent scout arranged another session for the Texas fiddler and his family.

Though his records did not catapult Robertson into fame, his music made a definite impact on fiddlers in his home state of Texas. Some of the best Texas fiddlers of recent years have acknowledged their debt to Eck Robertson. Until his death, February 15,1975 in Borger, Texas he remained formidable contestant.

Red Steely 1982

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Albert Lee Steeley, better-known as “RED” Steeley, was born September 10, 1893 at Scottsboro, Alabama. His grandmother was a Taylor; a family which consisted of many fiddlers. Bob and “Alf” Taylor, brothers of Red’s grandmother, were fiddlers. Both ran for Governor of Tennessee, and one was elected and fulfilled that office.

Red came to Texas when he was 8 or 10 years old. He was 5 years old when he first played the fiddle–one which his brother, 7 years of age, had made. The family first came to East Texas, then moved to Central Texas, and finally settled in North Texas. Red was married when he was eighteen to Mary Elizabeth Bodine. They celebrated their 54th wedding anniversary before she passed away. Three years later on the same date, December 16, 1969, Mr. Steeley also passed away at the age of 75 years.
Albert Lee “Red” Steeley
Inducted in 1982
Listen to Red playing The Fatal Wedding

Red Steeley had very little education, but he was a very gifted person. Most of his life was spent in farming south of Arlington, Texas. During the Depression he worked as a fiddle-maker and repairman for Joe Stamp in north Ft. Worth. In1929, he almost turned into a professional fiddler. He made 10 double-faced records of fiddle music for Brunswick. He knew at least four hundred fiddle tunes. He especially enjoyed playing hornpipes, schottisches, waltzes and reels. His favorite breakdown was “Billy in the Low Ground”. His daughter, Mildred, played with him as accompanist on the guitar.

Mr. Steeley won Top Place in the Fiddling Contest at the Centennial Fair in Dallas. He was a good friend of Irvin, Vernon and Norman Solomon, Benny Thomasson and the Franklins-and they enjoyed playing many hours of fiddle tunes together. However, Mr. Steeley enjoyed making fiddles rather than playing them; and perhaps it is in this regard that the many fiddlers in this part of Texas best knew and remember him. Mr. and Mrs. Steeley had two children, Mildred (Mrs. Garth Watkins) of Carthage, Texas and Rev. Jim Steeley of Irving, Texas. Jim has two children and four grandchildren. Mildred has five children and 12 grandchildren. Of the seven grandchildren of Red and Mary Elizabeth Steeley, five have degrees from major universities.

Ervin Solomon 1981

ervin_solomonBorn January 14, 1902 in Comanche County, Texas to Pleasant Riley and Lucy Smith Solomon, being next to the youngest of nine children. Ervin grew up in Kaufman County as a farm boy where he learned from his Pap to play fiddle at an early age. He met and married Beulah Faye Arbuckle, August 4, 1922. To this union three sons were born: Vernon, Norman and DeWayne.

Ervin and Beulah met at a very small east Texas town named Quinlan. After a short romance, she married a fiddler. Through a natural talent and much hard practice, sometimes in a corn crib (according to his Dad,) for they could not stand the constant sound of strings for a long period of time. He recorded his first record in 1929 for Columbia. He started playing in competition in 1927 and never lost a contest as long as he was in competition. Always winning his division as well as Grand Champion. This was most important income for a nickel a pound cotton farmer. His last fiddle session with friends, was on October 31st, 1947, all night long and then on November 1st all day long, in a jam session with Joe Hughes, Major Franklin and Omega Burden. Ervin passed away suddenly on November 3rd from an apparent heart attack. To this family and it’s many friends, it’s been a great loss, but a lot of happy memories hearing some of his innovations still being played today.