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Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys

1905

James Robert Wills is born on a farm in East Texas, near Waco.

1929

Bob Wills forms the Wills Fiddle Band in Forth Worth, Texas.

1931

Now called the Light Crust Doughboys, Bob Wills’ group gets its own radio show.

1934

After forming a new band, the Playboys, in Waco, Texas, the year before, Bob Wills moves to Oklahoma. He continues work on radio and renames his band the Texas Playboys.

1935

Bob Wills’ first recording session yields “Maiden’s Prayer.” It is cut in Dallas for the American Recording Company (ARC), which becomes part of Columbia Records, for whom he’ll record for 12 years. Wills’ singles during this period appear on the Vocalion, OKeh and Columbia labels.

1938

Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys record “San Antonio Rose.”

1941

The Bob Wills classics’ “Take Me Back to Tulsa” (formerly “Take Me Back to Texas") and “Cherokee Maiden” (a #1 hit for Merle Haggard in 1976) are recorded at the same landmark session.

1944

“New San Antonio Rose,” a vocal version of Bob Willis’ 1938 instrumental classic “San Antonio Rose,” hits #3 on the country-music chart. It is one of two gold records for Columbia this year, the other being by Frank Sinatra.

1946

“New Spanish Two Step,” a vocal version of Bob Willis’ 1935 instrumental “Spanish Two Step,” enters the country chart, which it will top for 16 weeks.

1947

Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys record a series of transcriptions in California that are intended as syndicated radio programs. Half a century later, they are in print on Rhino Records as The Tiffany Transcriptions, with nine volumes appearing between 1990 and 1993.

1947

After a dozen years at Columbia, Bob Wills records his first single ("Deep Water") for a new label, MGM, where he’ll have three hits

1954

Bob Wills records “Cadillac in Model ‘A’,” his final single for MGM. He moves on to the Decca and Liberty labels.

1960

“Heart to Heart Talk,” Bob Wills’ last major hit, reunites him with vocalist Tommy Duncan. It reaches #5 on the country chart.

1962

Bob Wills suffers the first in a series of heart attacks over the next decade.

1968

Bob Wills is inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

1973

Bob Wills suffers a crippling stroke in his sleep after the first day of sessions for a album that is released as ‘For the Last Time’. He remains in a coma until his death.

1975

Bob Wills dies of pneumonia at a Fort Worth, Texas, nursing home.

1999

Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys are inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the fourteenth annual induction dinner.