Rex Gillentine 2008

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Rex Gillentine
Inducted in 2008

orn in Graham, Texas on October 27, 1953, to Henry and Betty Gillentine, Rex was the youngest child and has one sister, Sherry who is married to Robert Rose. His dad was a fiddle player, and his grandparents were musicians, so Rex grew up listening to music. His family often performed at musicals and participated in jam sessions around Graham.

After moving to Mineral Wells, Texas in 1967, and breaking an ankle by falling from a horse, Rex started learning guitar. He said, “I couldn’t do anything much, so I started trying to play guitar for my dad.” Rex’s father was playing with the Marshall Holmes Band and Rex would go along and watch Marshall play, and tried to play as Marshall did. This led to entertaining at musicals around the area, and it was at one of these musicals that Rex met Jack Burger, who “started him off right.” While playing at jamborees, Rex met Randy Elmore and Bill Gilbert. Rex and Randy spent many weekends together playing at jamborees, fiddle contests, and jam sessions at Bill Gilbert’s home and at McMinn’s Peach Shed.

This is where Rex began learning from Tommy Burger and Chris Hazlewood. Moving to Plano in 1971, Rex finished high school, graduating in 1972. During this time he continued attending fiddle contests and jam sessions, and played with a local band. He was always anxious to meet and work with good musicians. He credits such associations with giving him the incentive to improve, and says that he then began to understand how talented Omega Burden, Buddy Weeks, and so many other guitar players were.
In 1973, Rex teamed up with Terry Morris, beginning a long association with the Morris family. The two would attend fiddle contests from spring through fall, and take odd jobs during the winter. Terry would win the fiddle contests and Rex would usually win the guitar prize. Between contests they would stay with various musicians or with Louise and Willie Howard (Terry’s mom and step-dad).

Rex moved back to Graham in 1976, continuing contests and playing jobs on weekends. He married Sue Reeves in 1987, and a year later his son, Nicholas (a budding guitarist), was born. Family responsibilities required Rex to take a job that required working weekends, ruling out all but perhaps a contest per year. Moving to the family farm in 1999 allowed more time to participate in contests and to enjoy musician friends who drop by to visit and jam.

Teaching guitar workshops, including at the National Old Time Fiddlers’ Contest in Weiser, Idaho, and for Jana Jae’s Fiddle Camp, has allowed Rex to share his knowledge of music. His guitar tablature has been printed in Acoustic Guitar Magazine, Swing Essentials, and other publications. He has played with such fiddle players as Orville Burns and Matt Hartz on the Grand Ole Opry, and has recorded with Terry Morris, Dale Morris, Sr., Randy Elmore, Wes Westmoreland, Johnny Smith, Ricky Boen, Bubby Hopkins, Matt Hartz, Danita Rast, and many others.

Among those to whom Rex gives credit for his musical development are his parents, Jack Burger, Tommy and Elsie Burger, Marshall Holmes, the Elmore family, the Morris family, Sleepy Johnson, Omega Burden, Buddy Weeks, the Franklin family, the Solomon family, Chris Hazlewood, Bill Gilbert, Bartow Riley, and many more.

Rex wishes to extend a thank you to all who have helped and encouraged him through the years, and says the “fiddle family” friends are the greatest!