Category Archives: Hall of fame

Randy Elmore 2000

randy-elmore-big

Randy Elmore

Inducted in 2000
Listen to Elmore play Say Old Man

Randy Elmore was born in Fort Worth, Texas, on the 13th of June, 1954, to James and Glee Elmore. The oldest of six children, Randy started out on the guitar at age nine. At age eleven he picked up the fiddle for the first time. From the very first awkward pull of the how and the squeak of the string Randy knew he had found the instrument that would allow him to convey his feelings to the folks in the audience. Randy says, “There was something unexplainable about the sound that came out of that fiddle, and to this day I’ve never been able to put it down”.

Randy played for the first two years under the instruction of Mr. Kenneth Pitts, who was once the fiddler for the Lightcrust Doughboys. It was about this time that he met fiddlemaker and repairman Mr. L.T. Childress, who introduced Randy to the world of contest fiddling. Through Mr. Childress he met fiddlers Bill Gilbert and Norman Solomon who would become Randy’s main teachers for the next few years. Once Randy obtained his driver’s license he started going to the homes of Vernon Solomon, Benny Thomasson, Claude Henson, Sleepy Johnson, Major and Lewis Franklin, E.J. Hopkins and many, many other fiddlers, who were always willing to teach a young fiddler a new tune or a new way to play a tune. Randy said “I’ve never heard a fiddler that I couldn’t learn something from. They have all got their own ways of playing and they’re all good.”

Throughout Randy’s high school years he played square dances with Vernon Solomon and went to every fiddle contest he could get to. In 1970 Randy met fiddler Johnny Gimble, who introduced him to western swing music and playing in a band. Because of Randy’s immediate love for this type of playing, upon graduating from high school, he joined his first band, “The Ramblin Rhythm Band”. In 1973 he joined Warren Edwards Band then went on to the Stagecoach Band in Fort Worth, Texas, which were both western swing dance bands.

In August of 1975, Randy joined Red Stagall and the Coleman County Cowboys and oured the United States and Europe until the end of 1980. In April of 1981 Randy went to work for Lone Star Gas Co. as a heavy equipment operator and later became supervisor of a pipeline construction crew. After three years of pipelining Randy found himself traveling more for the gas company than he did when he was playing music for a living. Randy was offered a job with country singer Reba McEntire, so he quit pipelining and went back on the road playing the fiddle. After eleven months Randy was offered a job with singer Mel Tillis which lasted until the end of 1992.

At the beginning of 1993 Randy went to work for himself as a freelance musician doing recording sessions, concerts, shows, and dances under his own name. Randy also teaches fiddle camp workshops around the country for six weeks every year. Randy has five albums to his credit and has played fiddle, mandolin, and guitar on about 100 albums for other singers and musicians.Randy won the Texas State Fiddling Championship in 1975, 76, and won the World Fiddling Championship in 1978and 1984. Throughout his career he has won first place and grand champion in over 500 contests. In 1998 Randy was voted “Instrumentalist of the Year” at theLincoln County Cowboy Symposium in Ruidoso, New Mexico. In 1999 Randy was inducted into the “Western Swing Hall of Fame” in Sacramento, California.

In 1973 Randy married Deborah Allbright and they have two sons, Jody and Jerry. At this writing Randy and Deborah also have three grandsons. Randy has achieved Texas, United States, and World titles for his fiddling abilities and readily admits that his talents are a gift from God. Randy has said many times, “as long as the good Lord will allow me to make a sound on the fiddle and folks will keep coming to hear me play, I’m going to keep fiddling.”

April 2000

Jake Glidewell 1999

jake-glidewell-large

Jake Glidewell

Inducted in 1999
Listen to Glidewell play Ragtime Annie

orn to Russell and Sophronia Glidewell in Bells, Texas, in Grayson County on June 5, 1909 and was raised on a farm located about six miles from the Red River. Jake is the oldest of eight children with three brothers and four sisters. In those days, lots of old time square dances were held at homes all up and down the Red River. It was here that Jake first learned to play some on the banjo and then learned to second on the guitar. He also taught his younger brother to second on the guitar.

The fiddler in the area where Jake grew up was Uncle Bill Givens and it was from him that Jake learned to fiddle some of the old tunes like “Maggie”, “Nellie Grey”, “Red River Valley” plus a few waltzes and hoe-downs. Jake recalls that “Uncle Bill was getting old and very contrary and might just at any time get mad at someone and box up his fiddle and go home”. By chopping cotton for 50 cents a day, Jake earned enough money to order a fiddle of his own from Sears and Roebuck Company. It cost $9.50 and was the best one they had at that time. The price also included a bow, an extra set of Bell brand strings, a box of rosin, and the postage.

Jake’s mother made a canvas case for the fiddle from an old cotton sack, which he still has. He rode to the dances on a mule, carrying the fiddle in the canvas bag. When Jake was about 15 and shortly after he got his own fiddle, Uncle Bill Givens passed away, which left Jake the only one for miles around that played the fiddle. Sometimes he earned a couple of dollars playing for dances. The usual charge was 15 cents a square and 10 cents extra to waltz, rag, or round dance. This was mostly on credit and Jake says, “I guess I really embarrassed a lot of those poor old farm boys right in front of their girl friends but they would usually pay up when I asked for it!” Jake had two young friends who played mandolin and guitar with him at these dances and they had many good times.

Jake met Bessie Lou Tucker in 1929 when his sisters brought her home with them from school. Jake said “She was kinda young then, but I kept my eye on her until she grew up”. They were married on August 14, 1932. They have two children, Frank and Cotton Glidewell, five grandchildren and three great grandchildren. They were married almost 66 years. Bessie passed away May 22, 1998.

In 1928, Jake moved to west Texas and didn’t play any more. He worked in the shipyards at Orange Texas as an electrician during the war. He moved to Victoria in 1951 to work for E. I. DuPont as an electrician. He had a stroke 1969 and was losing the use of his left arm and the fingers on both hands. During therapy, which followed an operation in Houston, his doctor found out that he used to play the fiddle and told him that it would be very helpful if he would begin playing again. Jake says, “I had to go to contests where the fiddlers were to learn how to play again. I really love to hear all fiddlers, young and old. In fact, I even enjoy the very worst ones for they all do their best. Country musicians are the finest people I know.”

Jake plays in many contests and often wins but considers the best reward he gets for his playing, is the joy expressed by persons who live in the rest homes in Victoria where he plays often. One of the most promising aspects of old time fiddling, and one which pleases Jake very much, is the increasing numbers of young fiddlers who are playing this type music. Jake has helped several youngsters get started with the fiddle and always gives encouragement to those just starting. When he hears a youngster playing “Fifty Years Ago Waltz” and other old tunes, he knows that those tunes will never be forgotten and it is his hope that there will be many more interested young people who will keep fiddling going on for many years.
Jake is an active member in the Masonic and Odd Fellows lodges and a member of the Second Baptist church. In June, 1974, Jake retired from E. I. DuPont and began enjoying the fiddling he loves even more. He recommends it as the very best thing to keep from getting old and says, “I am going to try to keep on playing until I am at least a 100 and if I don’t make it, just say I tried!”

Omega Burden 1999

omega-burden-large

Omega Burden
Inducted in 1999
Listen to Omega-Guitar/ Major Franklin on Fiddle “Durang’s Horne Pipe”

Omega was born in 1913 in Gordanville,Texas. raised on his dad’s ranch called “The Wolf Ranch” in Cedar Mills, Texas.

He was one of seven children in their family, consisting of two brothers and four sisters. Omega was raised with a firm hand by his mom and did chores. Upon leaving home and starting a family of his own. He met Major Franklin in a little place between Whitewright, Tx. and Bells, Tx. and they struck up a friendship that lasted till the end. He did Farming around Trenton for a while then found a better job at Central Freight in Dallas in the early forties.

Sometime in the forties he found a better job in Dennison Texas, working for the Katy Rail Road. It this was the time frame he bought his famous guitar, which Bobby Christman now owns. As best recollection of the price, by his son F.L. Burden, he paid somewhere between $85-$125 for it then and that was a pretty steep price for a guitar back then. He worked for the railroad and was Yard Master when he retired.

There are many stories about Omega but the one no can deny is that he has inspired many a back up guitarist across the state and the nation.

 

Bill Northcutt 1998

bill-northcutt-large

 

Bill M. Northcutt
Inducted in 1998
Listen to Northcutt play Forked Deer

Billy M. Northcutt was born to Harmon and Louise Northcutt  on May 9, 1935, on a farm in Crystal City, Texas.  He went to school there and on his first day of school during his sophomore year of high school he came home with an old fiddle.  His mother asked, “How did you pay for it?”  He replied:  “I gave him dollar down and promised to pay a dollar a week.”

They lived in a small house and had to put up with a lot of noisy fiddle practice but it paid off and they became very proud of him.

He graduated from high school in 1953 and went to work for a seismograph crew. With his first paycheck he bought his mother a pair of boudoir lamps and an “Heirloom of Tomorrow” electric clock.

In 1956, he joined the Air Force.  After boot camp he was stationed at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi.  After his honorable discharge in 1960, in Fort Worth Texas he went to work for Convair, which later became General Dynamics.

While in Fort Worth, he met and became friends with Benny Tomasson, Major Franklin, Lewis Franklin, Vernon and Norman Soloman.  All influenced and helped with his Texas style fiddling.

In 1962 he moved to Houston and went to work for H & H Music Company where he stayed until 1976.  In 1976 his mother moved in with him and they jointly opened a small music store he called Fiddle & Bow Music Co.  He worked and was happy there until his sudden demise on October 6, 1992 at home.

Bill played all stringed instruments plus the organ, piano and bagpipes. He played Celtic, Scottish, Swedish and Texas Old Time Fiddling music.  He traveled all of the United States to various fiddle contests and music festivals.

Bill was a friend and teacher to many.

Jimmie Don Bates 1997

jimmie-bates-large

 

Jimmie Don Bates
Inducted in 1997

It is fitting that the man who would come to practically dominate Texas fiddle contests was born in the capital city of Austin, on January 1, 1965, the first day of a new generation.Jimmie Don Bates was the only child of Valeara and Jimmie D. Bates, who not only instilled their child with the desire to compete and to be the best he could be, but who provided the tools and training to be the champion he has become. Jimmie Don started playing the fiddle when he was 11. His father-who had lost the use of his own left hand in a horse and buggy accident as a child-tirelessly took young Jimmie Don to teachers and contests.

Jimmie Don learned from Garland Gainer, a New Mexico native who had learned the Texas style himself from the great Norman Solomon. Twice a week, Vernon Worrell would patiently beat a drum until Jimmie Don picked up the rhythm. When he was 13, Jimmie Don met Bennie Thomason at the State Championship contest in Hallettsville, and accepted his invitation to visit and study from him at Red Oak, Texas. The next year, Jimmie Don became the youngest person ever to win the Texas Old Time Fiddler’s Association championship contest at its annual convention in Burnet, and he has won that contest many times since. 1983 was a pivotal year for Jimmie Don Bates. He lost his father, graduated from high school, and won the Texas state championship. He began teaching fiddle, but had to work at various jobs to supplement his income. In the ensuing years, Jimmie Don continued the path his parents worked so hard to guide him towards. In 1987, he became the third Texan to win the national championship in Weiser, Idaho. He has won the world championship contest at Crockett, Texas five times in a row, and he has won the Texas state championship contest seven times.

Jimmie Don now lives in Austin, Texas. In 1995, Jimmie Don was elected President of the Texas Old Time Fiddlers Association. He has now taught 83 people the Texas style of playing fiddle or guitar, and it is obvious that Texas fiddling will dominate Jimmie Don Bates, the first of a new generation of Texas fiddlers, for all his years to come.

Forrest Craig 1996

forrest-craig-large

Forrest H. Craig
Inducted in 1996

Forrest H. Craig was born in Joplin, Missouri, March 28, 1920. As the eleventh and youngest child of Charles and Addie Craig, he learned, early on to love a crowd. He also knew, early on, how much he loved fiddles and their music. He’ll tell you he took hours and hours of lessons to learn to play, but the lessons just didn’t quite, take to him.

As he grew up in Oklahoma, and later, moved to the oil patches of West Texas, Lake Charles, Louisiana, and Pasadena, Texas, Forrest built his reputation as a hard worker. For thirty years he represented the Union of Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers, International. In 1940, he married the late Barbara Little of San Antonio, and together, they loved and provided for two children, Charlie and Keran Sue.

It was on trips between Corpus Christi and New Orleans that Forrest tried his hand at making his first fiddle. Maybe he thought it could be improved upon, for it was the first of 121 fiddles he has now made. (And, it must have been a lot of trips to New Orleans to make that first instrument, because he says it takes about 200 hours to make a fiddle right). For the neck, back and sides, he uses maple wood. The top comes from spruce, but the true measure of a fiddle is in its tone and its quality of workmanship.As a member of the International Violin Makers Association, Forrest has won many top honors, including four Grand Championships.

For many years, Forrest has come to Hallettsville to enjoy the Texas State Championship Fiddlers’ Frolics and, with his wife and childhood friend Earline, has proven an enthusiastic and appreciative supporter of the contest. In 1990, to encourage youngsters to perfect the art of fiddle playing, he donated one of his handmade fiddles to the winners of the Freshman Division of 15 years old and under. Now, a sought-after prize, a Craig fiddle is donated again this year, for the 9th time. This gift, so painstakingly-created, gives young competitors extra-incentive to play the best of their abilities-abilities honed with practice, concentration, energy and family support. The First Place, one-time-only prize to the winning contestant has increased participation and interest in this age-group of fiddlers. When the “Frolics” was first organized, only four contestants enter the Freshman Division. Last year more than 40 youngsters competed.

With his skill in creating championship instruments and his devotion to perpetuating the legacy of fiddle music, particularly in Texas, Forrest H. Craig takes a rightful place in Texas Fiddler’s Hall of Fame.

Johnny Gimble 1995

johnny-gimble-large

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

Bill King 1994

bill-king-large

Bill King
Inducted in 1994

Bill King was born August 1, 1909 in Cuervo, New Mexico, the son of Louis P. King and Vashti Skinner King. Bill was two years old when he moved to Texas. He began to fiddle at the age of ten or twelve years. Tow of his older brothers and sister were also fiddle and guitar pickers. Bill met his wife, Frankie and married her when he was twenty and she was sixteen. Their love of music became a common interest. In her family, a fiddle was “just something to help you dance”. They lived on a farm in the Texas Panhandle during the Great Depression and began playing for neighborhood dances mostly for free and using five cent guitar strings for Frankie’s guitar.

During those years they had two sons; Bill Jr. and Bob. Their life was full of growing cotton and raising their family, but also filled with hard luck, much music and good friends. Bill and Frankie worked as a team with a piano player in this three-piece band, playing for private country club dances, as well as square dance clubs. They also played for country and western music dances and entertainments. Many hours were devoted to playing for benefit shows, for cancer crusades and heart research funds.

Then, show music gave way to fiddle music! Bill took over the chairmanship of the annual March 17th St. Patrick’s Celebration at Shamrock, Texas, which included a fiddle contest. From then on he changed his style of fiddling to fiddle contest numbers, and he was soon in the winning circle of fiddlers at various contests throughout the state. It was natural for him to pick up the fiddle-he never had a formal lesson, but he has to his credit 143 trophies and plaques to show for his wins in contests. Frankie played guitar for him in every fiddle contest he ever entered. Bill King was inducted into the New Mexico State Hall of Fame in 1991.

He was instrumental in organizing the large fiddle contest at Wellington and other locations in West Texas. The instrument on which he played for many years was the first fiddle that Major Franklin brought to the Panhandle in 1926. In 1974 Bill and Frankie retired and moved into Shamrock. They spent their entire life playing and listening to other fiddlers-either in their homes or their fiddler friends homes. He once said: “The ten best fiddlers live within two hundred miles of the Dallas-Fort Worth area”. (which included him) “Fiddlers are like family: They will do their best to beat you in a contest, but if you have trouble, they’ll give you their prize money”. Bill King died January 2, 1990 in Shamrock, Texas.

J.C. Hounshell 1993

jc-hounshell-large

 

J.C. Hounshell
Inducted in 1993
Listen to Houshell play Ragtime Annie

J.C. was the youngest of six children born to Chris & Allie Byrd Hounshell of Grosvenor, Brown County, Texas. He comes from a musical family on his mother’s side.When J.C. was about ten years old, his mother traded an old crank type phonograph for a fiddle and a bow for J.C.’s oldest brother. His brother would not dare let him play his fiddle but when he was away from the house, J.C. would slip the fiddle out and experiment with it and learned to play before his brother knew anything about it.

He attended school in Grosvenor graduating in 1948. He then moved to Abilene, Texas where he went to business college and then worked for Lone Star Gas Company. He married his high school sweetheart Mary Joyce Ritchie in 1950. J.C. was probably about thirty years old before he heard Texas Style Fidding and he heard Bryant Houston. He just about went nuts and made trips to play with Bryant who lived in Cisco, Texas making recordings of his fiddling. The Hazelwood’s Carl and Chris moved to Abilene from New Mexico and were a good inspiration. Carl being a good fiddler and Chris, and excellent guitar picker. Along about this time he met Major Franklin and many, many others who were an inspiration to him.

The first time J.C. ever played in a contest was in Burnet, Texas and he won second place. Dick Barrett was first, J.C. second and Dale Morris, Sr. third. He has played in a lot of contests over the state and has judged a lot of them.

He was a judge for ten straight years for the Texas State Championship Contest in Hallettsville, Texas. Cliff Fryer told him he liked his judging as he was fair and impartial and Cliff along with Frank Zaruba and Kenneth Henneke were responsible for his being judge.

J.C. has always promoted Old Time Fiddling and encouraged the young people to play, helping them all he could. Math Deatherage used to knock on the door almost every night, or just anytime he could learn a lick or two. It was always a thrill when Terry Morris and Rex Gillentine would come for a visit and music would last till wee hours of the morning.

In 1974 J.C. & Joyce moved from Abilene to Lufkin, Texas. Their East Texas home is still the place for good company, good food and good fiddling.

Vernon Solomon 1992

vernon-solomon-large

Vernon Solomon

Inducted in 1992
Listen to Solomon play Tom and Jerry

Felix Vernon Solomon, the first child of Ervin and Beulah Solomon, was born December 23, 1924 in Kaufman County, Texas. He and his two younger brothers; Norman and Dewayne,grew up in an atmosphere of fiddle music played by their father, as well as their grandfather and many other notables, Major and Louis Franklin, Red Williams and Red Steely who made him his fiddles.

On July 6, 1947 Vernon married Ruby Bragg, whose sister Betty Bragg later married his brother Norman. Vernon and Ruby had four sons: Mike, Ricky, Stephen and Terry. Mike, an accomplished fiddle playing champion, was killed in the Vietnam War. Ricky has been playing with Red Steagull, Ray Price and Reba McEntire bands. Stephen played several years with Box Car Willie. Terry who plays the fiddle, electric bass and rhythm guitar. With so many family musicians, the Solomons’ performed as a band – known as “Solomons ” Championship Fiddling” Throughout appearances, Vernon made easy-going comments and with the Solomons excellent style, captivated their audiences.

Vernon enjoyed fiddling because of the many great people whom he met and enjoyed making music with. In 1968, he and Norman were selected to represent the state of Texas at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. at the annual FolkLife Festival. In 1972 he won the Grand Masters Contest in Nashville and judged at The Weiser Idaho contest and contests in Oklahoma. Vernon Solomon and his family lived in the Fort Worth community all their lives and gave tremendous influence to the state of Texas as well as nationwide. He retired to Decatur, Texas after 44 years of service at General Dynamics in Fort Worth. Just a few short months ago fiddle lovers throughout the country were greatly saddened when Vernon met his untimely death in an automobile accident. His contribution and influence in the art of fiddle music will never be forgotten. He gave us so much.