Category Archives: Hall of fame

Daniel Jasek 2006

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Daniel Jasek
Inducted in 2006
Listen to Agnes Anne Waltz arranged by Jasek 

Daniel (Dan) Jasek was born to Louis and Albina (Migl)Jasek in Moulton(Lavaca County)Texas on February 28, 1932. He was the second youngest among nine boys. Dan was reared on a small family farm and still operates it. He went eight years to Novohrad, a country school. Dan was inducted into the U.S. Army at age 20 and served two years during the Korean War.

While stationed in Camp Chaffe, Arkansas for a few weeks he met a fellow soldier name Joe Molnoskey from Gonzales, Texas, who was to go home on leave. Joe showed his family picture to Dan who immediately pointed to one of Joe’s sisters, Agnes Anne, and asked if she is married. The answer was no. Does she have a boyfriend? The reply was no again. Dan then told Joe to tell her hello. Upon Joe’s return from leave he told Dan that his sister said to tell me hello. When Dan received his leave he made a date to meet her and BINGO! One and half years later they married on October 17, 1955. Dan and Agnes have five children named Debbie, Sidney, Matthew, Joan and Glen, 13 grandchildren, one great grandchild, three step grandchildren and one step great grandchild. They farmed all their lives and celebrated their 50 years of marriage this past October 17, 2005.

Dan became a musician at age 15. He purchased a fiddle from a farmer in Robstown, TX while picking cotton to make some money.It took thirty dollars to buy the fiddle. Dan paid ten dollars and his father paid the remaining twenty dollars. He learned to play by going to dances and watching and listening to the fiddle players. Then coming home at midnight or so he would take out the fiddle and very softly play, so as not to wake his parents, some of the tunes he heard. He started playing at dances at fifteen years of age and played dances for twenty-seven years.

Dan also plays several other instruments. One was the saxophone he played in a “um pa pa Czech band” years ago. He has also played “Taps” on a trumpet for the American Legion Military funerals. Thirty-five years ago when the State Championship Fiddlers Frolics started in Hallettsville he recalls that he couldn’t believe his ears when he heard these great fiddlers such as Dick Barrett, Louis Franklin, Dale Morris, Jim Chancellor, E.J. Hopkins and others. He never heard of these breakdowns and waltzes. What a thrill! He has worked extremely hard to learn some of these tunes such as Sally Goodin’, Whiskey Before Breakfast, Blackberry Blossom, and so many beautiful waltzes. Dan has never had a lesson, which he really regrets, he believes that if he could have, he would be a better fiddle player.

Dan has composed several tunes and completely rearranged some others. In his younger years he sat in and played with several known bands, namely Adolph Hofner and the Pearl Wranglers, Texas Top Hands, Herb’s Rhythm Ramblers with Arnold Parker, The Velvets and others. Dan has played in every (35) of the Texas State Championship Fiddlers Frolics contest. He has been and is a great supporter and advertiser for the Fiddle contest. One year he had an entourage of people, from 39 counties to advertise the State Championship Contest in Hallettsville. Dan is responsible for the Frolics musical kickoff held on Thursday evenings.

The eight years of country education has not stopped him from a few accomplishments. H e served on The Moulton ISD School Board and 5 of the 6 years he was President, Vice Chairman of the National Farmers Organization Red Meat Bargaining Committee, 51-year member of the Moulton American Legion, 50 plus years member Moulton Knights of Columbus. He served over 20 years as “Extraordinary Eucharistic Minister of the Eucharist” in the St. Joseph Catholic Church in Moulton. In his job for the USDA Agriculture Statistics he served 29 of his 33 years as Field Supervisor. Dan’s lifelong reason for existing is and always was “to learn to know, to love and to serve God.”

Wes Westmoreland III 2005

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Wes Westmoreland III
Inducted in 2005
Listen to Westmoreland play Hot Foot

Howard Dee (Wes) Westmoreland III was born September 10, 1962, the eldest of two children, to Howard (Butch) and Marianne Westmoreland Jr. Wes and his younger sister, Alice Anne, grew up in a loving and musical atmosphere that featured many Sunday afternoons of music at his Grandparents house. Wes still fondly remembers at a young age going to the big family reunions and watching “Papa”, “Uncle Doc” Watson, “Uncle Earg” Hillhouse, his father, uncle and cousins all playing together for hours.

At a very young age Wes began spending most of every summer at his grandfathers house in Lamkin, trailing behind his grandpa through woods, rivers, and fishing holes . It was here, between the hunting and fishing trips, that Wes’ granddad; H.D. Westmoreland Sr. began teaching him to play at age nine. The tunes that Wes had heard in his granddad’s kitchen all of his young life came easy to him, and he can still hear his Papa say “Wes, if you don’t put fire in it, it ain’t worth playing.” It was also at this time that he discovered his grandpa’s collection of “Texas Shorty” 45’s, and opened his eyes to an entire new world of fiddling.

Through these records and his grandfathers stories Wes’s musical heroes grew to include Benny Thomason, Major and Louis Franklin, Vernon and Norman Solomon, Orville Burns, Terry and Dale Morris, and the list goes on and on. About this time Wes began to compete in contests all over the state of Texas. Not forgotten are all the miles put on his family’s car driving to contests every summer weekend the length of the state. He will also forever feel a debt of gratitude to his father and Uncle Gene for all of the practice time spent helping him learn to play. Wes was lucky in that his grandfather not only taught him contest tunes but also exposed him to dance music and twin fiddling.There were many nights spent at some VFW hall or Senior Citizen building playing dance music. However, playing Texas Style breakdowns was always his first love and he spent endless hours listening to tunes trying to figure out how they achieved that sound and drive.

At the age of 18, Wes traveled to Weiser, Idaho and won the National Junior Championship Fiddle Contest- his first major contest. He made many new fiddlin’ friends in the northwest who remain good friends to this day. It was also that same year that he first visited the home of Bill Gilbert and began his second phase of learning. Wes had begun to have some success in fiddle contests, but no matter how hard he picked a tune apart, there always seemed to be something missing. It was under the guidance of Bill that he began to learn the secrets and nuances of the bow-work involved with playing breakdowns. A new bow lick learned in one breakdown, would inevitably show up in many others, prompting a major reworking of all his tunes.

After graduation from high school, Wes attended Tarleton University seeking a degree in Chemistry. He also joined the Tarleton U. Jazz Band, winning honors as best soloist, and began playing western swing dances and shows with Red Steagall and the Coleman County Cowboys. It was at this time that he met the next great influence on his musical journey, Randy Elmore. Randy had just moved back to Texas and happened to be over at Bill Gilberts for a jam session. Wes was blown away at the level of musicianship displayed in his swing solos. The two became fast friends and there were many sleepless nights spent discussing music theory and harmony parts, a practice that continues on even today. Randy was also instrumental in finding Wes’s “five string fiddle” that he has played all these years on stage. It was difficult balancing his love for fiddling with the rigors of a college education.

After Wes graduated from Tarleton University with a chemistry degree, he decided to put that degree in his pocket and pursue his love for music by accepting a job in Branson, Missouri with Boxcar Willie. The following year, Wes received a job offer from Mel Tillis for whom he worked for ten years. This was by far the largest band (17 pieces, including at times, 4 fiddle players) he had ever performed with and his previous experiences with bands and harmonies paid off. Wes performed with Mel Tillis on the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, on television broadcasts such as Nashville Now, Crook and Chase, Austin City Limits and various show places and casinos across the United States and abroad.

After playing professionally for 14 years, Wes decided to return to school rather than continue playing on the road in order to be closer to his children. He applied and was accepted to the University of Houston College of Pharmacy program in 1999 and returned to Texas. He also returned to breakdown fiddling and competing in contests after a 10-year hiatus. Wes received his Doctorate of Pharmacy in 2003 and after a one-year residency at Scott and White Hospital in Temple, Texas, he accepted a position within the hospital as a Patient Care Pharmacist.

Wes’ dedication to music has paid off though the years. To date his awards in include: National Junior Champ 1980, TOTFA State Champion 1985, 1986, 2002, World Champion 1985, 1987, 2003, Texas State Champion at Hallettsville 1988, 2001-2004, and numerous other contests and competitions.

Second only to his love of fiddling, is his love of teaching. Wes has also taught many fiddling workshops and camps across the United States and enjoys teaching western swing and Texas Style breakdowns with two of his best friends and heroes, Randy Elmore and Jim Chancellor (Texas Shorty). Adding even more to his enjoyment are his two children: Katherine 11yr, who sings and plays the flute, and Tanner, 9yr, who is carrying on the family tradition of fiddle players and learning as his dad and great-grandpa did before him.

Betty Joyce Solomon 2005

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Betty Joyce Solomon

Inducted in 2005
Listen to Solomon play Cottonpatch Rag on the piano

Born Betty Joyce Bragg in Forney, Kaufman County, Texas, December 31, 1931 to Lawrence and Mamie Bragg. The youngest of six children, Betty grew up and attended schools in Forney. While in high school she started dating Norman Solomon and in August of 1949 they married. They have one daughter, Sharon Gillespie and husband Joe; one son, Ronald and wife Vicky; three grandchildren and three great-grandsons.

Betty always enjoyed music and hoped to someday play the piano. In 1957 they bought their first piano and she immediately began a self-taught mission to play back up for Norman on his fiddle. Jerry Thomasson was living with them at the time to finish his senior year in high school. Norman and Jerry helped Betty tremendously in learning chords, rhythm and progression. They had a reel to reel tape recorder that she nearly wore out running the tunes back and forth trying to learn the changes. Little did she know it was recording in a different key and she had to transpose the changes when they sat down to play.

The years to follow were busy with music. In 1968 Norman and Betty, Norman’s brother Vernon, and their nephew Mike were invited to Washington, DC by Texas Folk Life. They played on stage at the Ford Theatre and entertained along with Ace Reid and Hondo Crouch among other Texas cultures.

Betty has received several honors in her pursuit of music. She was the first female to win the accompanist division at the TOTFA in Burnet, Texas. She was invited to the Grand Master’s Contest in Nashville TN to help judge, and was voted as favorite accompanist at the TOTFA in 1996.

Other highlights include being asked to be a back-up musician on ten recordings, all of which have been Texas style fiddling. In the 1970’s Norman, Vernon and Benny Thomasson were guests on the Porter Waggoner Show with Betty and Jerry accompanying them on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry. She has also entertained at the Hemisfair in San Antonio, the University of Texas in Austin, the Knickerbocker Hotel in Chicago, and the State University at Minot, North Dakota.

Some of the greatest guitar players, fiddlers and musicians have encouraged Betty to play and keep playing music. She has learned something from every musician whether it be a chord, note or a tune. “I say it is a God given talent for which I am always thankful to have and enjoy sharing with all musicians and good listeners.”

Music was always the center of entertainment in Norman and Betty’s home. Betty fondly recalls lifelong friendships with many people that began simply through the enjoyment of music.

Bartow Riley 2004

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Bartow Riley
Inducted in 2004
Listen to Riley play Gray Eagle

Bartow was born November 6,1921, the son of Granville and Fannie Riley in the small Community of Dozier, which is just Southwest of Shamrock, Texas. Bartow’s first memories of fiddling came from his father who played fiddle. His dad had an old fiddle with steel strings that he would take down off the wall and play some tunes such as “Over the waves” and the “Texas Quick Step|”. Granville Riley was also a bass singer and sang with the Copeland Quartet and in 1929 made a record with the group in Fort Worth. It was during this time Bartow learned to play some Rhythm guitar, as he would go to the singing competitions with his dad.

Bartow’s grandfather, William Riley ran a grocery store in the in the same community of Dozier from about 1924 thru the 50s, this was an asset as he was able to meet many people that came into the community. His other Granddad, Mr. Tom Waters lived in McLean Texas, and had a hand cranked Victrola with some of Eck Robertson’s new 78rpm recordings of “Billy in the Low Ground”, “Ragtime Annie”, “Sally Goodin” and others. He remembered Eck’s music and also the Kessenger Bros who had recorded “Don’t Let the Deal Go Down”, in 1927, Bartow never forgot those old fiddle tunes.In the Late 1920s and early 1930s he remembered Major Franklin, Benny Thomasson and others would come and pick cotton in the fall around Dozier.

Saturday night was the night Mr. Jude Sechrist, (whose daughter, Irene is Bill Mac’s mother) use to have get togethers and playing sessions that helped instill in him how music can bring people together and have fun too. One of his first memories of a fiddle contest was when he was a little boy he remembered Major playing in a contest in McLean. This was the town where Bartow’s granddad Water’s lived. During his teen years he wasn’t around fiddling but went to singing competitions with his dad, then served in the Air Force from 1942 through 1945.

Bartow bought his first fiddle around 1953 or 1954 and he renewed his interest in fiddle music and became friends with Benny Thomasson and Eck Robertson, Bartow and Benny drove to many contests together. There were many fond memories of trips to contests he will always remember. Norman and Betty Solomon were close friends, as well as Judge McClellan, and they had many jams together. Bartow traveled many miles with Benny Thomasson, Pete Osborne and Ollie Miller to fiddle contests all over Texas and elsewhere . During the mid 1960s, Bartow played on several albums with some of the legendary Texas fiddlers and also recorded several of his own. In 1995 he was selected to judge the National Oldtime Fiddlers Contest at Weiser, Idaho. Over the years he has known fiddlers both young and old and many of them were and are good friends.

Bartow was one of the first board members of the Texas Old Time Fiddlers Association and his wife Lylous helped keep the minutes of the meetings and also wrote some of the early articles for “The Texas Fiddler” newsletter and did other secretarial work for the Association as needed . In 1975 Bartow and Lylous got to play a part in the movie “McIntosh and T.J. starring Roy Rogers. Bartow played the part of a fiddler and Lylous played the part of a dancer in the same scene that Bartow was fiddling in. The Film was shot at the “6666 Ranch” in Guthrie Texas about seventy miles from Childress Texas where the Rileys’ live.

Bartow has been a real asset to our Texas Fiddlers in that he has always had his door open anytime day or night to any fiddler that needs a place to stay or a friend to talk to. Over the years many have known the Riley’s graciousness and hospitality. He has helped to preserve our style of music by recording and documenting playing styles and is willing to share his knowledge of a song or a lick with any fiddler that might ask for some guidance or a suggestion. Bartow and his wife, Lylous, have been married for 35 years and reside in Childress, Texas.

William A. “Wild Bill” Lyell 2004

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William A. Wild Bill Lyell

Inducted in 2004

Bill was born In Waco, Texas, in 1923 and grew up on a small farm – they had chickens, ducks, some pigs; now that was just in the house. In 1934, Gene Autry was an Inspiration to most small boys, so Wild Bill just had to have a guitar. By saving a nickel buying “day old” bread he had $4.95 and at Christmas bought a Sears Roebuck guitar and a book called “learn to Play Guitar in Five Minutes. Well, he says he is still learning. After graduating from high school in 1940, he took a civil service exam and got a job with the Post Office Department in Washington, D.C. He left home with a new suit, (the first one), a pasteboard suitcase, and a $20.00 dollar bill. World War II started 3 months later and eventually he entered military service as an Aviation Cadet. He graduated from single-engine fighter pilot school at Moore Field, Mission, Texas. He flew P-40 and P-47 aircraft.

After the war Wild Bill became Involved with music, assumed the name “Lucky McCoy” and had sponsored radio programs on KCOR and KONO, San Antonio. At the same time, he was a member of a Western Swing Band, Sleepy Short and the Texas Troubadours.

Wild Bill was recalled to active duty when the Korean War started and had many interesting episodes. He graduated from helicopter school and was a helicopter Instructor pilot at the Air Force helicopter school for six years. As such, he instructed the Air Force Chief of Staff, General Curtis LeMay; was Commander of the “doomsday” squadron charged to providing helicopter transportation for the President of the United States and his staff to the emergency White House locations, in the event of a nuclear exchange;

Commander of the squadron in Thailand participating in the Son Tay raid in North Vietnam attempting to rescue our POWS. He flew the helicopter scenes for the movie “Flight from Ashiya”, starring Yul Brenner and Richard Widmark. He retired from the Air Force after 31 years.

Following retirement, he thought it would be fun to accompany fiddlers at contests. Through the years he has had the privilege and pleasure of playing with some of the finest fiddlers in the world at many of the best-known contests, Hallettsville being one of them.

Wild Bill admires his heroes as Pat Hopson, Rex Gillentine, Bobby Christman, Anthony Mature, Ray and Royce Franklin, and Steve Williams. They have all helped him through the years. Bill has continually been involved in backing up fiddlers from Weiser Idaho to Nashville Tennessee and beyond and is always ready to back up any fiddler that needs his help. Bill and his wife Stephanie now reside in Gatesville, Texas.

Dick Barrett 2004

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Dick Barrett

Inducted in 2004
Listen to Barrett play Bill Cheatum

Dick Barrett was born in Maysville, Oklahoma on August 6, 1918, the son of Sam and Minnie Culbreath Barrett. His childhood was spent mostly in North Texas and Southern Oklahoma. Dick’s father, Sam, was a fiddle player, as was his grandfather John. Sam was a player of pretty waltzes, and Dick liked fiddle playing a lot as a youngster, but was more interested in playing baseball. When he was 7, his Dad traded for a fiddle for him and he started to play some of the waltzes that his Dad played. He enjoyed fiddling as a small child, but it was still baseball that was the siren song for him until one day in 1927 when his brother came running up the road to the farm to tell Sam and Dick that he had heard a fiddler in town that played like nothing they had ever heard. Dick’s brother, J. J., took his Dad into town the next night to meet Major Franklin, whom he had played with all night the night before. Major followed them back to the Barrett farm that night to stay so they could play some more the next day.

Dick recalls being thunderstruck by the sound of Major’s breakdown playing. Having heard many of the recorded fiddlers of the time, he remembers this sound as seeming far more advanced and beautiful to his ears than anything he had ever heard up to that point in time. For the first time he was truly interested in working at learning a few breakdowns, so Sam asked if Major would try to help young Dick. They worked out a trade for a couple of lessons. Dick says he was very intimidated and so in awe of the beautiful sound that he mostly sat with his mouth open listening and was unable to concentrate on analyzing what was going on. After the second lesson Major told Sam, “Save your money Sam, that kid will never learn anything.”
So ended his breakdown fiddle education as a small child.

A few years passed and the sound known as Western Swing began to be heard. Dick was fascinated by this sound and actually went to work on the fiddle. He became proficient at this style, but played mostly as a hobby and earned a little extra playing school house dances and whatever jobs he could pick. Playing dances was easier than picking cotton or the other agricultural jobs that he held during the darkest part of the depression.

He went to work for a AAA farm team as an outfielder at the end of the depression. This long dreamed of occupation was cut short when he was drafted into the Combat Engineers at the beginning of WW II. After serving several tours of combat, the Army pulled him in to play baseball for a military team called the Manila All Stars in the Philippines. This team included some heavy hitters from the baseball world and Dick was loving it, but again it was not to last when he ruined his arm while playing ball. The Army then put him to work in a Special Services band. This gave him the opportunity to meet and play with people who would eventually employ him after the war. He was discharged honorably and sent to reenter the States at San Diego, CA. Immediately he went to work in the shipyards there, and stayed at that job until Rex Allen employed him. They worked steadily at the Copper Kettle club in San Diego for some time after the war.

Always the fisherman seeking a better hole, he wanted to move to Oregon where the trout fishing and the elk hunting were good. He went to Eugene, Oregon and worked as a building contractor/carpenter by day and purchased the Lane County Barn Dance where he ran a dance hall at night. The Barn Dance did well for a few years with Dick�s regular band, and they frequently brought in well known singers to play there. This was how he met Tex Ritter. The dance hall eventually burned down and Tex Ritter offered him a job as fiddler and bandleader. He took it and stayed with Ritter for four years. He came home from the end of one tour and counted 31 white shirts that had been worn once and never laundered. He decided it was time to take a break from the road. He worked as a contractor again until T. Texas Tyler offered him a job and back out on the road he went again. Tyler was not as busy as Tex, and Dick would take the job of filling in for Hugh Farr for the Sons of the Pioneers when they would be on a West Coast tour. Once more he grew tired of the traveling and moved to Seattle, WA and started another contracting business. Jesse Ashlock moved in to live with Dick and they played at the Golden Apple and had a radio show broadcast live from the China Pheasant every week. Jesse moved on and Dick kept the Ranchhand band together until his children grew old enough to enter school. He then sold his contracting business and moved back to his native Texas and bought a farm so his kids Christie and Brett could go to a country school.

He had stayed in touch with Major all through these years, and he started going to some of the fiddle jams when he moved back to Texas. He says no one there was much interested in playing Swing or waltzes until they got drunk and needed a good harmony player. The sound of these breakdowns stayed with him all of his adult life, so he decided that he would at last learn to play them, and learn them he did. The rest is well recorded history. He became one of the most successful competitors ever with a long and colorful history as a breakdown fiddler. The Memphis Flyer recently called him the “Grand Poo Bah” of competitive fiddling. The Boise Idahoan referred to him as the “Elder Statesman of competitive fiddling” and the Devil’s Box referred to him as the “Old War Horse of competitive fiddling”.

For the last 24 years, Dick has lived in Montana with his wife Lisa. There they have taught Texas Fiddling to a large number of people from all over the world that come there to study with them as resident students. He does the bow work for the Violin Shop that his wife Lisa runs. They still travel about 50,000 miles a year playing and promoting Texas Fiddling. They fish and hunt for recreation and pass these skills along to the students that they teach as well as many breakdowns, waltzes, rags, etc. Dick is grateful to have had such a long and good life and credits fiddle playing as having a lot to do with his continuing good health and ambition. At 85, he doesn’t see slowing down in his near future. His very favorite part of life is sitting down to a good jam session in someone’s home playing tunes and enjoying the good company that music seems to bring. When asked what his favorite tunes are, he replies with a smile, “I love them all.”

Royce Franklin 2003

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Royce Franklin

Inducted in 2003

Melvin Royce Franklin was born March 28, 1930 at Dosier in West Texas. He was the second child of Major Lee and Inez Franklin. Being a son of one of the country’s legendary fiddlers, he was introduced to fiddle music and guitar playing early in life. At about six or seven years of age, his father gave him a small standard guitar (4 string) that had been redesigned in an attempt to make it into a tenor guitar. Then when he was nine, his father gave him an old Gibson guitar that he played until 1965. He did not take lessons, but watched other players and learned to play the many different chords on his own.

During high school days he played two live radio shows per day with his cousin, Louis Franklin, who is widely known today as one of Texas’s leading fiddle players. They were part of a group known as the D.G. Boys who did live shows on KRRV in Sherman. Then the same group would do another show on the same day, known as Eddie Miller and the Oklahomans and on these shows, Royce played the stand up bass as well as the guitar.Royce entered the U.S. Air Force in early 1948 and on May 1, of that year he married Loyce Stalcup of Denison. They have four children, two girls, Caryn Martin of Groves, TX. and Bettye Franklin of Henrietta, TX. Two sons, David of Venus, TX. andPaul of Burleson, TX. They have 8 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren.

On leaving the Air Force, Royce worked for 11 years for Convair in FT. Worth. In 1963 he took a job as a Supervisor with Conso Tool in Dallas and stayed there 20 years. In 1983, he began work in Dallas as a supervisor with Tri-City Tool and retired from there in 1995.

Throughout his life, Royce has enjoyed playing and listening to the music of Texas. He is always in demand as an accompanist at contests, jam sessions and recording sessions. He has recorded with many of Texas’s best fiddle players. He was one of the accompanist (along with his brother Ray) on Louis and Larry Franklin’s Keepsake Album and Matt and Danita Hartz with The Franklin’s album. Royce has won many accompanist contests and in 1988 he won the Favorite Accompanist Award of the Texas Old Time Fiddlers Association. This award, he says he is the proudest of because he was selected by vote, by the general membership of The Texas Old Time Fiddlers Association.

Royce and Loyce live at their very comfortable home in Roanoke, Texas. The house sits on three wooded acres, just back far enough back not to disturb anyone if a jam session gets into full swing.

Ray Franklin 2003

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Delmer Ray Franklin
Inducted in 2003

Born August 16th, 1932 to Major Lee and Thelma Inez Franklin in Shamrock Texas. He was raised in Denison Texas and started playing music with his dad (Major Franklin) at the very young age of five or six. His first instrument was the tenor banjo and later became proficient in bass and guitar. In January of 1949 Ray entered the United States Air Force and in 1950 �1951 he was stationed in Korea. During his years in the service he was stationed at Lackland Air Force Base and 1966 married Geraldine (Geri) Whitehead.

In 1968 Ray was sent to Vietnam to serve and was awarded the Bronze Star in 1969. After 20 years of military service, he retired in 1969 and settled in the San Antonio area. Upon his retirement he decided to go into automobile business and was and was a dealer until 1994.

During Ray’s service years, he played with several local bands around San Antonio Texas. In 1983 Ray started playing bass with the “Texas Top Hands” Western Swing band, whose bandleader is Ray Sezpanic. In 1992 The “Texas Top Hands” band was inducted into the Western Swing Hall of Fame in Austin Texas.Ray has been a champion guitarist at many major contests and has won several major titles. His list of accomplishments include: 1st PlaceTexas State Fiddlers’ Frolics,1st Place Texas Old Time Fiddlers Association Championship,1st Place Crockett World Champion,and 1st Place Red River Fiddle Fest. He has played with many famous fiddlers over the years and is always ready to play for a novice fiddler as well as a champion. He has been an undeniable asset both on and off stage for Texas Fiddling and anyone who has had the pleasure of his accompaniment.

Ray and Geri’s son Daniel Wayne (Dan) and his wife Alice have two children they are Daniel Jr., now 21 and Jessica, who is 12 years of age. Daniel Jr. and Jessica are Ray and Geri’s grand children.

Larry Franklin 2002

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Larry Franklin

Inducted in 2002

With two weeks of practice under his belt, he entered his first contest in Hale Center, Texas on July 4, 1961. He vividly remembers meeting and hearing Eck Robertson that day. He was disappointed to not win anything in the 18 and under division, but remembers Mike Soloman (Vernon’s son) splitting his second place prize money with him. Larry says this act of kindness kept him from giving up and he continued to play and enter contests. Several years later Larry was able to return the favor when he won a Ft. Worth contest with only one prize in his age group and split his winnings with Mike. There were fiddlers’ contests or jam sessions almost every weekend and Larry listened and learned from the greatest Fiddlers and Accompanists of our time.Like his father, Larry went on to win many fiddling contests culminating with the World Championship title in Crockett, Texas at the age of sixteen.

He credits his mother for teaching him not only to be humble in winning, but most importantly in losing. After a three year tour of duty in the United States Army (1972-1975) Larry began playing professionally with the Cooder Browne Band (1976-1980) the Larry Franklin Band (1980-1984) and Asleep at the Wheel (1984-1991). In 1991 Larry moved to Nashville, TN and began a career as a studio musician and has since recorded with many of country music’s biggest stars. He has won three Grammy for instrumental performances of the year in 1987, 1988 and 1999. The Academy of Country Music awarded him Fiddle Player of the Year” in 1997. In the Fall of 2001, he released his first solo instrumental album entitled “Now and Then” His internet website is: www.larry-franklin.com

Dale Morris 2001

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Dale Morris Sr.
Inducted in 2001
Listen to Morris play Velvet’s Waltz

Dale Morris was born in Sanger, Texas, a small town north of Denton and is the oldest of six children born to Laverne and Louise Morris. Dale grew up in a musical environment and developed an interest in music at a very early age. Dale’s first instrument was piano, however, through the years Dale later began playing guitar, then fiddle, Dale’s main instrument. Although Dale had been playing several years before reaching age eighteen, it is ironic, that until this time he had not been aware of the numerous great Texas style fiddlers who lived within a fifty-mile radius of him! Prior to this point in time, Dale played with various “bluegrass and country bands” around the Fort Worth – Dallas area.

Dale became aware, however and will forever feel a debt of gratitude to the great legendary Texas fiddler, Sleepy Johnson for his vital part in this. Dale will never forget the night, while playing at a nightclub in north Fort Worth, when a couple in the audience introduced themselves as Sleepy and Sally Johnson. Sleepy, of course, was a famous fiddler, having worked with Bob Wills and The Texas Playboys for many years. Also accompanying Sleepy and Sally were Drew and Jewell Garner. Jewell was the sister of legendary Texas fiddler Louis Franklin! Sleepy invited Dale to a “jam session” that was to be held at the home of Werner Cain. Sleepy went on to tell Dale of the different fiddlers who were likely to be there; Norman and Vernon Soloman, Benny Thomason, Orville Burns, Texas Shorty, Major Franklin, on and on. Ironically, Dale was unfamiliar with most of them at this time, except for Texas Shorty, of whom Dale had recordings (by, the way, when asked Dale will quickly tell you that one of his very first heroes was Texas Shorty).
Dale had no idea, of course, at how important it would be for him to attend this jam session. It is very possible that Dale might not have attended this jam session had it not been for the persistence of Sleepy, who came by the Ford dealership in Fort Worth where Dale worked and insisted he attend. Sleepy knew how important this would be to Dale.

Dale did attend the jam session and to say it was a “revelation” would be an understatement! NEVER HAD DALE heard so much great fiddling! Not only was his hero, the legendary Texas Shorty in attendance, so were great fiddlers such as Norman and Vernon Soloman, Benny Thomasson, Major Franklin, Orville Burns, Dick Barrett, Louis Franklin, Garland Gainer, Claude Henson, etc. etc. on and on. While many current fiddlers, at the time of this writing, know of the past greats only via tape or other media, Dale feels very fortunate in the fact that he has personally known many of them.

Dale won his first fiddling contest in 1967 and being really ” bitten by the bug”, so to speak, Dale became an avid participant in fiddling contests across Texas and in 1972, won his first Texas State Championship. He went on to repeat in 1973 and also won again in 1978 and 1979. Also, over the years Dale has won several other prestigious contests, among these, the World’s Championship, Crockett Texas, in 1979, The Super Bowl of Fiddling in 1979, Colorado State Championship in 1986, The Western Open Old Time 1990.
He has also had the extreme honor of serving as judge in many of our nations most prestigious fiddle contests.

Dale’s love for his music, however, was not limited to strictly contest fiddling. By the early 1970s, Dale was working in the band of Billy Gray and the “Cowtowners”. Working in this band afforded Dale the opportunity to work with the likes of Wynn Stewart, Sammi Smith, Johnny Rodriquez, Carl Smith, Leon Rausch and Red Stegall. By 1975 Dale moved to Nashville Tennessee and became a member of Stonewall Jackson’s “Minutemen”. Since then Dale has also been a member of The Marty Robbins’ band, Ray Price’s Cherokee Cowboys and Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys. In 1981 Dale was named the 17th member of the legendary “Sons of The Pioneers”, the group founded by Roy Rogers in the early 1930s.

Dale became a “full-time” music teacher by the early 1990s and at present he and his wife Tobi own and operate a teaching studio in Boyd Texas. They currently have a clientele of students, ranging in age from 2 years of age to 72, of whom they are very proud.