Orville Burns 1987

orville_burns

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)