E.J. Hopkins 1991

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E.J. Hopkins
Inducted in 1991
Listen to Hopkins play Wagoner’s Horn Pipe

E.J. Hopkins, the youngest of nine children of Benjamin and Lieurett Hopkins, was born at Raven Hill, near Oakhurst, Texas on November25, 1929. E.J. graduated from high school in Oakhurst in 1946, after having taught himself to play the guitar and mandolin.

E.J. purchased his first fiddle in 1949 for $15, but became discouraged trying to learn to play. He entered the United States Army in 1951. A year later, he married Violet Moody, and taught himself to play the fiddle he had purchased a few years back. After military service, E.J. and Violet returned to Houston, where E.J. played fiddle and lead guitar in the “Trinity Valley Playboys,” and where they were blessed with their son, Carl, and twin daughters, Sheila and Sharon. In 1990, E.J. retired from the Houston Police Department, where he had worked since 1963.

E.J. entered his first fiddle contest in 1954 at Crockett, Texas. He never cashed the $2.50 check he received for winning fifth place. The next year at Crockett, E.J first heard Benny Thomasson fiddle. Although he then feared he could not fiddle well enough to compete in contests, E.J. continued to play in contests, and he continued to play in a band, the “Sunnyland Playboys.” E.J. heard more of Benny Thomasson, and he also listened to Norman and Vernon Solomon, and Louis and Major Franklin. E.J. credits the development of his own style of fiddling to the influence of these five fiddlers.

By 1965, E.J. felt he had begun to make a break-through in the breakdown style of fiddling he was seeking to achieve, and in 1968 and 1969, E.J. won the World Championship Fiddlers Contest at Crockett. By 1973, E.J. had recorded three albums and several singles, including his own composition, “Wedding Waltz.”

E.J. credits his success to teaching and to good accompanists. In 1968 he began teaching his son, Carl, to play the fiddle and guitar. E.J. feels that teaching others caused him to listen to tunes more closely, and he rearranged several tunes that he found he had been playing incorrectly. E.J. also believes that his instrument accompanists were vital to his successful performance. Those accompanists included Dave Davison, Chuck Goss, Carroll Williams, Richard Pucken, Steve Williams, Johnny Crisp, James Mature and Anthony Mature.

E.J. served as one of the Texas Old Time Fiddlers Association’s first Directors. He was chairman of the Association’s 1973 convention and president of the Association in 1977. E.J. has always been a contender for the title of Texas State Champion. E.J. is a true Texas Fiddler.