Johnny Gimble 1995

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Johnny Gimble

Inducted in 1995

Johnny Gimble grew up on a farm in East Texas, near Tyler, with four musical brothers. He has been married since 1949 to Barbara Kemp from Gatesville, Texas Johnny and Barbara have three children: Dick and twins Cyndi and Gay. Dick has three children and teaches guitar and bass at McLennan Community College, Waco. Cyndi works for St. Barnard Ski Lodge, Taos, New Mexico. Gay has one child and is a teacher in Austin.

At age 13, Johnny and his brothers played on KGJB, Tyler. After high School, he joined the Shelton brothers on KWKH, Shreveport, Louisiana. He played in the campaign band for Jimmie Davis during his successful bid for governor of Louisiana. After serving in World War II, Johnny worked with various Texas radio and dance bands until he joined “Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys” in 1949. They settled in Dallas in the early ’50s and began doing radio and TV shows with Bill and Jim Boyd and “The Big D Jamboree”.

During the ’80s he appeared many time on Garrison Keillor’s Praire Home Companion”. In Waco, Johnny had his own ” Johnny Gimble and Homefolks” on KWTX-TV for three years. He was staff fiddler on NBC’s 5-Star Jubilee” from Springfield, Mo in 1961. While in Nashville from 1968 to 1978, he made recordings and appeared on many TV shows. Johnny became staff fiddler on “Good Ole Nashville Music”, was a member of the “Million Dollar Band” on “HEE-HAW” and still commutes to Nashville for appearances on “Nashville Now”. He currently has his own show, “Gimble Music Ranch” to be aired on Willie Nelson’s “Outlaw Music Channel.” Johnny has appeared in several movies including “Nashville”, with Willie Nelson in “Honeysuckle Rose” and “Songwriter”. He also portrayed Bob Wills in Clint Eastwood’s “Honky Tonk Man”.

Johnny has been a part of numerous albums throughout the years. In 1948, he recorded with Roberts Brothers Rhythmaires in Corpus Christi, Texas. He subsequently recorded several sessions on MGM with Bob Wills and in the early ’50s in Dallas with Lefty Frizzell, Marty Robbins, Ray Price and others. During those ten years in Nashville, Gimble made his living in the studio recording with everyone from “Wills to Willie”. Merle Haggard, Charley Pride, Chet Atkins, Porter & Dolly, Conway & Loretta, Johnny Rodriguez, Connie Smith, George & Tammy. Even Joan Baez & Paul McCartney featured his fiddle and mandolin. Still active in the studio in Texas and commuting to Nashville, he can be heard on George Strait’s first eight albums, on Mel Tillis’ last effort and has seven albums of his own.

Johnny was voted “Instrumentalist of the Year” by the Country Music Association in 1978 and has received that award four times since. He was named “Fiddler of the Year” by the Academy of Country Music eight times and has been nominated for a Grammy three times. In 1994, he won the Grammy for performance with Asleep at the Wheel plus National Fellowship Heritage Award by Endowment for Arkansas. (Thanks Hillary!) After more than 50 years, Johnny Gimble is still “Fiddlin’ Around”. In addition to studio Work, he is active “on the road” doing festivals, concerts, dances and as a solo artist with his own group, “Texas Swing” (also his favorite kind of music.) April 23, 1995