Category Archives: Hall of fame

Normon Solomon

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Norman Solomon
Inducted in 1991
Listen to Solomon play Lime Rock

Norman Odell Solomon, one of three sons of Ervin and Beulah Solomon, was born in Kaufman County, Texas, May 25, 1927 Norman grew up listening to the music played by his father and other top musicians, Red Steeley, Red Williams, Benny Thommason and the Franklins. In 1946, Norman met Betty Bragg, also of Kaufman County, and they were married August 19, 1949.

He is currently retired from General Dynamics after 40 1/2years of service. In 1949 Red Steeley, long time family friend and fiddle maker, presented Norman with his first fiddle. Prior to that time, he played guitar with his father and a brother, Vernon. Norman’s family includes a daughter Sharon, a son Ronald and three grandchildren. Its’ the music, the association with good musicians and the people who like the music that means so much to the Solomon family.

E.J. Hopkins 1991

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E.J. Hopkins
Inducted in 1991
Listen to Hopkins play Wagoner’s Horn Pipe

E.J. Hopkins, the youngest of nine children of Benjamin and Lieurett Hopkins, was born at Raven Hill, near Oakhurst, Texas on November25, 1929. E.J. graduated from high school in Oakhurst in 1946, after having taught himself to play the guitar and mandolin.

E.J. purchased his first fiddle in 1949 for $15, but became discouraged trying to learn to play. He entered the United States Army in 1951. A year later, he married Violet Moody, and taught himself to play the fiddle he had purchased a few years back. After military service, E.J. and Violet returned to Houston, where E.J. played fiddle and lead guitar in the “Trinity Valley Playboys,” and where they were blessed with their son, Carl, and twin daughters, Sheila and Sharon. In 1990, E.J. retired from the Houston Police Department, where he had worked since 1963.

E.J. entered his first fiddle contest in 1954 at Crockett, Texas. He never cashed the $2.50 check he received for winning fifth place. The next year at Crockett, E.J first heard Benny Thomasson fiddle. Although he then feared he could not fiddle well enough to compete in contests, E.J. continued to play in contests, and he continued to play in a band, the “Sunnyland Playboys.” E.J. heard more of Benny Thomasson, and he also listened to Norman and Vernon Solomon, and Louis and Major Franklin. E.J. credits the development of his own style of fiddling to the influence of these five fiddlers.

By 1965, E.J. felt he had begun to make a break-through in the breakdown style of fiddling he was seeking to achieve, and in 1968 and 1969, E.J. won the World Championship Fiddlers Contest at Crockett. By 1973, E.J. had recorded three albums and several singles, including his own composition, “Wedding Waltz.”

E.J. credits his success to teaching and to good accompanists. In 1968 he began teaching his son, Carl, to play the fiddle and guitar. E.J. feels that teaching others caused him to listen to tunes more closely, and he rearranged several tunes that he found he had been playing incorrectly. E.J. also believes that his instrument accompanists were vital to his successful performance. Those accompanists included Dave Davison, Chuck Goss, Carroll Williams, Richard Pucken, Steve Williams, Johnny Crisp, James Mature and Anthony Mature.

E.J. served as one of the Texas Old Time Fiddlers Association’s first Directors. He was chairman of the Association’s 1973 convention and president of the Association in 1977. E.J. has always been a contender for the title of Texas State Champion. E.J. is a true Texas Fiddler.

Velda Ross Fryer 1990

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Velda Ross Fryer

Inducted in 1990

For 47 years she has been a wife and mother, and now grandmother, but for all of her life Velda Fryer has done whatever she could to make life better for those she cares about.

She was born Velda Jane Ross in McCune, Kansas in 1912, the only daughter of four children born to Earl and Olive Ross. Her mother died when she was a child, and Velda grew up taking care of her three brothers and her father. As an adult she very naturally became a schoolteacher, but eventually left the family farm to work in the State Treasurer’s Office in Topeka, Kansas and later for Cessna Aircraft in Wichita. It was on a blind date in 1941 that she met a young serviceman Clifford Fryer.

They were married in 1943, but spent only three days together before he was ordered to Europe for the remainder of World War II. After the war, the couple finally settled in St. Louis, Missouri, and it’s there that their two children, John Stuart and Shara Michelle, were born. The family moved to Hallettsville, Texas in 1962, the beginning of their personal involvement with Texas fiddling. For Velda and Cliff, attending fiddling contests across the state became more than a hobby. It was a way of life to pack their bags and head out for a weekend of fiddle music.

They developed fiddling friends who became more like family .Velda always doting on the youngsters, many who grew up to be State and World Champions. But for all the young ones there are always praise and hugs from Velda. And in return they play waltzes that she loves so well. When the Texas State Championship Fiddlers’ Frolics began in 1971, Velda was in the thick of the planning and work for putting on a major contest. For more than a decade, it became a tradition for the fiddlers to wind up at the Fryer house for a jam session on the Saturday night of the contest. Velda would feed tens of dozens and make sure everyone had a place to sleep, though the fiddling usually went on all night. Texas fiddlers know that the door is always open in the Fryer house and Velda will treat you like one of her own. She shrugs off any rewards for her efforts over the years, saying, only, that it’s kept her young. We would say young in spirit and full of heart for the people, the children and the tradition of Texas fiddling.

April 1990

Harvey Norris 1990

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Harvey Norris
Inducted in 1990
Listen to Norris announcing

Born May 29, 1925 in Milano, Texas, Harvey R. Norris was heavily influenced by fiddle music as a child, but he never learned to play. The son of Jeff and Edna Norris, he recalled his paternal grandfather and other families fiddle players performing on a host of instruments and remembered from his early childhood house dances, including all night dances at his home once or twice each year.

During World War II Harvey served in the Army Medical Corps as a surgical technician aboard a hospital ship, and entertained in USO’s while stationed stateside and aboard ship in England, France, Panama, Hawaii, the Philippines, Okinawa, Bataan, Corregedor, Japan and Korea.

His interest in fiddle music was rekindled through a weeklong Western celebration in Marlin in 1962 when he hired Johnny Gimble for a street dance. Gimble has since twice been named instrumentalist of the year in the 1980’s.

In 1964 and 1965, Norris produced a White Settlement Jamboree, sponsored by the bank where he was vice president. He was hired as a bookkeeper at First State Bank of Marlin and 23 years later, with 12 of those years at First State, he retired as president of a bank in Bowie.

Norris met his wife Jacquelyn when she performed with a country-western band on his show. Harvey’s engagements as master of ceremonies or performer include the Fiddlers Festival international in Fort Worth, KLMW (Marlin) fiddle contest and live show, KENR radio in Houston, the Grapevine Opry at Water Gardens in Fort Worth and as emcee and moderator of the Texas Old Time Fiddlers Association. For the past 14 years he’s been emcee at the Texas State Championship Fiddlers Frolics in Halletts’tille, and was named in 1989 the “Voice of the Frolics,”

Norris has introduced the youngest fiddler, a three-year-old; Uncle Eck Robinson, fiddler, composer and granddaddy of oldtime fiddlers in Texas, the Hon. Carl Albert, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives in 1971, and a host of old time fiddlers of fame.

He’s met or introduced such stars as Johnny Gimble, Red Foley, Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Porter Waggoner, Little Jimmy Dickens, Farron Young, Ernest Tubbs the Wilburn Brothers, Teddy and Doyle, Mel Tillis, Jean Sheppard, Leon Rausch, Shoji Tabuchi and Fiddlin’ Frenchie Burke.

“For any talent I possess;’ Norris said, “I give praise to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

 

Louis Franklin 1990

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Louis Franklin

Inducted in 1990

Fiddling goes a long way back in the Franklin Family. Louis’ grandfather, an old-time fiddler, taught Louis his first tunes, “Sheep and Goat Going to the Pasture” and “Buck Creek Ladies.” Louis remembers that his grandfather was a pretty old man and about to quit playing, but he pestered him to continue, and never gave him a minute’s peace after that. Louis first learned a tune, and then with his help, experimented until he could play it. Louis had an uncle, Major Franklin, also a well-known fiddler, who was inducted into the Texas Fiddlers’ Hall of Fame in 1979.

Louis Franklin is the only son in a family of eight children of the late Amy and Jess Franklin. He was born in Windom,-Texas, January 15, 1923 and grew up on the farm. His dad made little toy fiddles out of cornstalks for his children and grandchildren. While growing up, Louis played on a $ 4.75 Sears & Roebuck guitar with Major and his family. He got his first fiddle for $ 5.00 at the age of 14 and entered his first contest in Sherman, Texas when he was 13. He graduated from Bells High School and married Louise Genthe in 1942. Four years later while serving in the Army of Occupation in Japan, he played in a band. When he returned home, Louis and his family settled in Denison, Texas. He played on Denison-Sherman radio and made personal appearances with Eddie Miller and the Oklahomans, but after a year “on the road”, Louis returned to farm life. Louis moved his family to the farm at Whitewright, Texas where he and Louise still reside. They have five children: Donna Lotimer, Leonard, Texas; Anna Holcomb, Ft. Worth, Texas; fiddler Larry Franklin, Austin, Texas; Kenneth Franklin, Whitewright, Texas and Debbie Andrew, Whitewright, Texas. They have nine grandchildren and one great granddaughter – -ranging in ages of 3 to 26 years old.

Throughout the years Louis has enjoyed many fiddle sessions playing with Norman and Vernon Solomon, Benny Thomasson, Sleepy Johnson, to name a few. He plays all types of music – one as well as another, but when he plays a rag, “somebody’s got to dance”. His reputation as one of the best fiddlers is well deserved. He served on the initial Board of Directors of the Texas Old-Time Fiddlers’ Association, and has won many contests, prizes and trophies. He won the World Championship Fiddlers’ Contest at Crockett, Texas for the third consecutive year in 1973 – making him one of four fiddlers to have accomplished this in the 53 years that the contest has been in existence since 1936. He also won the Texas State Fiddlers Frolics Championship in Hallettsville, Texas in 1974.

Louis Franklin has had a tremendous influence on the younger generation of fiddlers-both in style of playing and rapport.

Cliff Fryer 1989

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Cllifford I. Fryer
Inducted in 1989

Cliff was born to John E. and Euna Fryer in Stanton, Missouri, about sixty miles west of St. Louis in 1917. The fiddle meant much in his life from the very beginning. He has fond memories of listening to his father, grandfather, uncles and aunts playing every time they could be together. By the time Cliff was old enough to start playing the fiddle, his grandfather was too old to teach him. But his father played at many country dances,and at the age of five, Cliff started to play familiar waltzes and dance tunes along with his father.

By the age of 16, Cliff started to find girls were more fun than fiddles, and the necessity of finding work during the depression took him from his home in Missouri to California. He worked first in a winery, and then tried other jobs, including forest ranger in Idaho, before returning to Missouri.

Cliff was working as a carpenter when, in November 1940, he was selected as the first draftee from the state of Missouri and was sent to the cavalry. After serving his year, he thought to return to civilian life. In just a few months, though, Pearl Harbor and the outbreak of World War II sent him back to the service. For nine months he was an aviation cadet in the Army Air Corps, then was sent overseas as a “Hedge Hopper” in the European Theater of Operations (E.T.O.) until the conclusion of the war.

In 1943, Cliff married Velda Ross of Wichita, Kansas. Upon his return from the war, they established a home in St. Louis for seventeen years, where he worked in construction, and where their children, John Stuart and Shara Michelle, were born. In May 1962, The Fryers moved to Hallettsville. They loved Texas and the people of Hallettsville so much, they remained there the next twenty years, managing their own construction business and raising their children. In 1963, after thirty years of not playing, Cliff found his interest in fiddling reawakened. A fiddle player in Hallettsville admired Cliff’s old family fiddle and played some tunes for him. That was all it took. From then on, he and Velda missed very few contests in and around the state. To them, nothing could replace the enjoyment and friendships they found through fiddle music. Cliff has never competed in contests. He would rather listen to others play. The Fryers are happiest when any of their fiddler friends come to their home for a jam session. The Texas State Championship Fiddlers’ Frolics from April 1971 to 1989 has been a source of much joy.

Any credit given to Cliff Fryer for this annual event must also be shared with his wife Velda, Rita and Frank Zaruba, and Anna Mae and Kenneth Henneke. It is a shared tribute with the many members of the Knights of Columbus and their families for devotion and immeasurable effort to make the Texas State Championship Contest a success and to keep live the Beauty of Texas Fiddle Music.

Terry Morris 1989

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Terry Morris
Inducted in 1989
Listen to Morris play Shuck in the Bush

Terry Morris was born at Ft. Worth, Texas on March 6, 1956, the youngest son in the family of six children of Louise and Laverne Morris. Terry grew up near the Greenwood community north of Decatur, Texas. Early in life, Terry exhibited an unusual talent. He gave his first public performance at the age of two-singing “Cotton Fields Back Home” at a school program in Ft. Worth. This led to playing the mandolin and guitar; mostly dance type music. His brother, Dale, became interested in the fiddle when Terry was about seven, and would sometimes take Terry along to contests. Terry never got to play much, but he soon realized WHY! It was because he could not play!

At the time, it was hard to swallow, so he concentrated on the guitar becoming very proficient. He was made aware of the difference between fiddling and “sawing”-when he heard Benny Thomasson playing at a jam session. His first competition was at a contest at Grosebeck, Texas in May, 1972. He did not win, but his ability was very apparent-so much so-that Velda Fryer implored him to come to Hallettsville in 1973 and play at the Texas State Championship Fiddlers’ Frolics. Terry thought she was making fun of him! Within a period of less than two years, Terry had reached the pinnacle of success. He spent his entire time traveling around the state; staying with his many fiddle friends and absorbing everything possible that would contribute to an improved style of Texas fiddling, having masters as teachers, he grew up with the finest music in the world.

Terry went on to win innumerable contests and was truly “King of the Hill”, henceforth. Terry was a real gentleman, and would never show up a fiddler of lesser stature. When the chips were down, he was unbeatable. While loving to play pranks with a fine sense of humor, he was still endowed with a serious side and an unfailing sense of fair play. Among his Credits: Texas Old Time Fiddlers Association Winner, 5 years Crockett World Champion Fiddler, 3 successive years Grand Masters Champion at Nashville. Tennessee Texas State Champion Fiddlers’ Frolics. Hallettsville. Texas 3 successive years

His untimely death on September 7, 1988, at the age of thirty-two years left a void that will never be filled. He left a legacy to his son TONY JOE MORRIS of the Ft. Worth area.

By Cliff Fryer

Ed Junot 1988

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Ed Junot
Inducted in 1988
Listen to Junot play Cajun Tune

Ed Junot was born June 29, 1932 in Rayne Louisiana to Volcar and Lena Junot and has three sisters.

Ed served four years in the Air Force from 1951 to 1955 in Japan, Greenland and the United States. He married in 1955 to the former Patsy Sablatura and has four children; Russell, Keith, Randy and Michelle; also daughter-in-law Nancy and two grandchildren Rusty and Heather Junot.(Russell and Keith’ respectively). They moved to Texas from Louisiana in 1961. He worked as an electrician and played in the following bands: The Melody Ramblers, The Southernaires and The Texas Valley Boys. Later he formed his own group – Ed Junot “The Fiddlin’ Cajun” and The Travelers.

Ed had entered many fiddling contests, winning Grand Champion at the Houston Livestock Show in 1974 and 1975; Second place in 1981 and 1982. He also won the Wharton County Fair Grand Champion in 1978 and 1979.

His unique style of playing the fiddle left handed with a right handed fiddle has passed down to his son Keith who plays the fiddle the same way. Russell and Randy play the guitar and Michelle plays a clarinet In the Wharton County Jr. College Band.

Ed Junot retired from playing in his band on New Years Eve 1980, but resumed playing later with other bands. He participated in the Country Music Benefit Shows wherever he was asked to perform. He always enjoyed the Fiddlers Frolics in Hallettsville for promoting the Cajun Music that he was brought up on and dearly loved. His last performance was on stage at the Fort Bend County Opry December 26, 1987 in Rosenburg, Texas.

A great husband, father. grandfather. musician and friend, he will be missed by all who loved him.

1932 – 1987

 

 

Jim “Texas Shorty” Chancellor 1988

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Jim “Texas Shorty” Chancellor
Inducted in 1988
Listen to Chancellor play Grey Eagle

Jim “Texas Shorty” Chancellor began his musical journey at the age of seven when his daddy brought home a mandolin and told Shorty and his brother, Allen, that it would go to the first son who learned to play it. Shorty devoted most of the next six years to “pickin’ the mandolin”. Around 1956 a landmark occurred in Shorty’s musical development when he became acquainted with the legendary Bennie Thomasson, who was the then current World Champion Fiddler. Bennie’s unique style of fiddling immediately attracted Shorty and he soon gave up the mandolin and poured all his efforts into old-time fiddling .

Three years later in 1959, under the tutorage of Bennie, Shorty won the World’s Fiddle Festival. In 1960 he went to New York to appear on a national television quiz show “To Tell The Truth” as the youngest fiddler to hold the World’s Championship. He became the second fiddler in the history of the World’s Fiddle Festival to attain undefeated status by winning the contest three consecutive times.

Succeeding years have seen Shorty win hundreds of fiddle contests throughout the nation, among them the National Fiddle Championship and the Texas State Championship on several different occasions. In the early 1960’s, through the efforts of an avid fan, a record company was established to produce Shorty’s music. The circulation of the fiddle records over the years has taken his music to every part of the nation. Old time fiddle music has been the first love of Shorty’s life for many years and he has encouraged young fiddlers to take up the art. Public awareness of this great music has grown to the extent that a music, which was once threatened with extinction, has been revived and is once again solidly entrenched in the entertainment world.

 

Orville Burns 1987

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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)