P.T. Riley 2010


PT Riley
Inducted in 2010

Patrick Thomas Riley (P.T.) was born to Mike & Mary Catherine Riley in Fort Worth, TX on January 25, 1949 “right smack dab” in the middle of one of the worst snow storms in years. The roads were so icy that Mike & Mary had to call a cab to get to the hospital. At an early age P.T. had a love for music and mechanical things. His mother and grandmother encouraged him to expand his knowledge and try different venues of expression. At age four P.T.’s father brought him a guitar from Mexico. P.T. loved the guitar very much and played it until it broke. P.T.’s father was a contractor and moved to different jobs around the U.S. introducing P.T. to different cultures and people. At age eight P.T. received a Roy Rogers guitar with a push button cord maker and he learned to play and sing the songs in the Roy Rogers book. While his mother had friends over visiting he would run up and down the halls singing and playing the songs he learned. Because he had a new Baby sister named Anne Rose, it wasn’t long before the guitar disappeared. P.T. thinks to this day that his mother must have hid it, as he never found the guitar again.

In second grade he began taking trumpet lessons and performing at school. He continued to take lessons and play the trumpet throughout high school & college. Still keeping his love for guitar & western music, he bought a Stella with black diamond strings, and proceeded to teach himself to play guitar left handed, without restringing the instrument. To this day, he plays the guitar upside down.

While in the U.S. Navy Reserves, P.T. went to work for Southwestern Bell. At the age of twenty, he was placed on active duty in Guam. Because of his work experience with the phone company, he went into the Navy as a communications technician and was responsible for maintaining electronic communication systems. There, while in the Navy, he found an outlet for his music, and received his first formal guitar training from fellow sailors. Every night, a group of sailors would go though the galley practicing cords & playing songs. After leaving the Navy, he returned to Southwestern Bell where he worked as a lineman in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

In the early 80s, P.T. transferred to Beeville to be closer to family. In 1984, he met and married Mary Ann. Although each of them had three children from previous marriages, their already quite large family was not complete until Bonnie came along. P.T. and Mary Ann’s children include five daughters: Katrina Sallee, Margaret Hunt, Sara Clark, Bonnie Riley, Amy Segler, and two sons Todd and Chad Sneed. They also have eight grandchildren.

P.T. had been singing and playing guitar at the local Country Opry shows around the Victoria area, when he realized that Bonnie wanted to be on stage too. Jake Glidewell suggested that P.T. bring Bonnie up to Hallettsville and see some of the talented young fiddlers. While there, she met a young fiddler named Regina Mathews and from that point on was eager to play the fiddle. P.T. drove Bonnie to lessons and fiddle contests throughout Texas, and played backup for her for many years.

PT likes to recall one fiddle contest in particular, which took place on a hot July day in Shepherd Texas. He entered the guitar contest up against the best guitar players in the state. P.T. won the contest to the surprise of most of the pickers and himself. He believes he might have just baffled the judges by playing upside down and backwards.

P.T. became an active member of several fiddle groups, and helped out wherever needed. Either by organizing fiddle contests, producing newsletters, creating websites or taking photos and video, P.T. has always been available and eager to help. Early on, he saw the need to archive old music, photos and stories. Under the guidance of Kenneth Henneke, Stuart Fryer, Alan Jirkovsky, Frank Zaruba, and others, he has worked to improve the Hallettsville Hall of Fame by refining the information about the members and including some music samples so that it is easily accessible to the public. With the assistance of Annie Mae Henneke, Frank Zaruba and Cherri Fryer he has kept up with the annual contest results and photos for the web site.

P.T. loves Texas fiddle music, the camaraderie of everyone involved, and the preservation of history. No one appreciates more, the amount of work and talent that is required to become a musician of the caliber found on stage at Hallettsville.

PT wishes to thank all those who have helped him with the task of preserving Texas old Time fiddle music.


PT Riley passed away May 9, 2010.