Major Lee Franklin 1979

major_franklinBorn Aug. 8, 1904 in Amity, Arkansas, the son of William Martin and Melia Etheridge Franklin. He was one of the middle ones of many children. A stepsister, Amy, was Louis Franklin’s mother. He got his first fiddle from his dad at 4 years of age. It was a small metal fiddle. When his father was away, he would sneak his Dad’s larger fiddle out and practice on it.

The Franklin family left Amity in 1912 in two covered wagons- it being necessary to bring the second one to hold the cooking range. They first settled at Allen’s Chapel, Pecan Gap & Petty (in the Paris-Bonham area) except for one summer when he went to Missouri to pick cotton. In 1926 they moved to Abra, Texas, and there on September 10, 1927, he married Inez Davis. They had 4 sons: Verlin, who died young, Royce, Ray and William, known as Dub”.

A few years later they moved to Bells and made their home on a farm near there. During World War II he worked at Perrin-Bells as a carpenter and also raised vegetables, which Inez cooked in the school cafeteria. Through the years Major played at many fiddling contests and brought home the winning prize. He taught his sons to play the guitar and bass. Inez played the bass fiddle, and as a family they provided the kind of music every-one loves to hear. Major and Louis Franklin also played together as the “Night Hawks” over KRRV in Sherman, Texas. Most of his fiddling was breakdowns, but he would play dance music upon persuasion, and would be very entertaining with his “Peg-Leg Dance”.

He worked at Kraft Foods in Denison for approximately six years, where he and Royce played in the “Kraft Swingers’ Band”. He worked at Conway Oil for 20 years until his retirement. Upon retirement, Major and Omega Burden spent many an hour playing together. On September 10, 1977, their children held a celebration for Major and Inez commemorating 50 years of marriage at their home in Denison, Texas. Together with their three sons, named above, 13 children and 4 great grand-children, other members of their family, many friends and much fiddle music, Major out-played them all.

Major is a recording artist and he has won honors at the Grand Masters at Nashville, the World Champion Fiddlers Festival at Crockett, and has been a consistent winner of fiddle contests throughout the country. In November of 1978, he received the Omega Burden award at the Fiddler’s Super Bowl Invitational at Durant, Oklahoma. Mr. Franklin has always been ready to help the young fiddlers. His most important rule is to have the music played right. Because of his influence, Texas now has its recognized classic style of fiddling known throughout the United States and Canada. He puts a whole new dimension into such tunes as Durang’s Hornpipe, Apple Blossom, Dusty Miller and Virginia Moonlight Waltz. He has a very tough act to follow, and brings out the best in all competitors