Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys – Anthology (1935 – 1973)
James Robert Wills (March 6, 1905 – May 13, 1975) was an American Western swing musician, songwriter, and bandleader. Considered by music authorities as the co-founder of Western swing, he was known widely as the King of Western Swing (although Spade Cooley self-promoted the moniker "King of Western Swing" from 1942 to 1969).
Wills formed several bands and played radio stations around the South and West until he formed the Texas Playboys in 1934 with Wills on fiddle, Tommy Duncan on piano and vocals, rhythm guitarist June Whalin, tenor banjoist Johnnie Lee Wills, and Kermit Whalin, who played steel guitar and bass. The band played regularly on Tulsa, Oklahoma radio station KVOO and added Leon McAuliffe on steel guitar, pianist Al Stricklin, drummer Smokey Dacus, and a horn section that expanded the band's sound. Wills favored jazz-like arrangements and the band found national popularity into the 1940s with such hits as "Steel Guitar Rag", "New San Antonio Rose", "Smoke On The Water", "Stars And Stripes On Iwo Jima", and "New Spanish Two Step".
Wills and the Texas Playboys recorded with several publishers and companies, including Vocalion, Okeh, Columbia, and MGM, frequently moving. In 1950, he had two top 10 hits, "Ida Red Likes the Boogie" and "Faded Love", which were his last hits for a decade. Throughout the 1950s, he struggled with poor health and tenuous finances, but continued to perform frequently despite the decline in popularity of his earlier music as rock and roll took over. Wills had a heart attack in 1962 and a second one the next year, which forced him to disband the Playboys, although Wills continued to perform solo.
In 1972, Wills accepted a citation from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers in Nashville. He was recording an album with fan Merle Haggard in 1973 when a stroke left him comatose until his death in 1975. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted Wills and the Texas Playboys in 1999.
He was born on a farm in Kosse, Limestone County, Texas to Emma Lee Foley and John Tompkins Wills. His parents were both of primarily English ancestry but they had distant Irish ancestry as well. His father was a statewide champion fiddle player, and either the Wills family was playing music or someone was "always wanting us to play for them", in addition to raising cotton on their farm.
In addition to picking cotton, the young Jim Bob learned to play the fiddle and the mandolin. Several of his sisters and brothers played musical instruments. The Wills family frequently held country dances in their home, and there was dancing in all four rooms. While living in Hall County, Texas, they also played at 'ranch dances', which were popular throughout west Texas.
Wills not only learned traditional music from his family, he learned some blues songs directly from African Americans in the cotton fields near Lakeview, Texas, and said that he did not play with many white children other than his siblings, until he was seven or eight years old. African Americans were his playmates, and his father enjoyed watching him jig dance with the black children.
New Mexico and Texas
At the age of 16, Wills left the family and hopped a freight train. Jim Rob, as he became known, drifted for several years, traveling from town to town trying to earn a living, at one point almost losing his life when he nearly fell from a moving train, and later being chased by railroad police.
In his 20s, he attended barber school, married his first wife Edna, and moved first to Roy, New Mexico, then returned to Turkey in Hall County (now considered his home town) to work as a barber at Hamm's Barber Shop. He alternated barbering and fiddling even when he moved to Fort Worth, Texas after leaving Hall County in 1929. There he played in minstrel and medicine shows, and, as with other Texas musicians such as Ocie Stockard, continued to earn money as a barber. He wore blackface makeup to appear in comedy routines, something that was common at the time. "He was playing his violin and singing." There were two guitars and a banjo player with him. "Bob was in blackface and was the comic; he cracked jokes, sang, and did an amazing jig dance."
Since there was already a Jim on the show, the manager began calling him Bob. However, it was as Jim Rob Wills, paired with Herman Arnspiger, that he made his first commercial (though unissued) recordings in November 1929 for Brunswick/Vocalion.
Wills was known for his hollering and wisecracking. One source for this was when, as a very young boy, he heard his father, grandfather, and cowboys give out loud cries when the music moved them.
When asked if his wisecracking and talking on the bandstand came from his medicine show experience, he said it did not. Rather, he said that it came directly from playing and living close to Negroes, and that he never did it necessarily as show, but more as a way to express his feelings.
While in Fort Worth, Wills added the "rowdy city blues" of Bessie Smith and Emmett Miller to a repertoire of mainly waltzes and breakdowns he had learned from his father, and patterned his vocal style after that of Miller and other performers such as Al Bernard.
That Wills made his professional debut in blackface was commented on by Wills' daughter, Rosetta: "He had a lot of respect for the musicians and music of his black friends," Rosetta is quoted as saying on the Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys website. She remembers that her father was such a fan of Bessie Smith that "[h]e once rode fifty miles on horseback just to see her perform live." (Wills is quoted as saying, "I rode horseback from the place between the rivers to Childress to see Bessie Smith ... She was about the greatest thing I had ever heard. In fact, there was no doubt about it. She was the greatest thing I ever heard.")
In Fort Worth, Wills met Herman Arnspiger and formed The Wills Fiddle Band. In 1930 Milton Brown joined the group as lead vocalist and brought a sense of innovation and experimentation to the band, which became known as the Aladdin Laddies and then soon renamed itself the Light Crust Doughboys because of radio sponsorship by the makers of Light Crust Flour. Brown left the band in 1932 to form the Musical Brownies, the first true Western swing band. Brown added twin fiddles, tenor banjo and slap bass, pointing the music in the direction of swing, which they played on local radio and at dancehalls.
Wills recalled the early days of what became known as Western swing music in a 1949 interview. "Here's the way I figure it. We sure not tryin' to take credit for swingin' it." Speaking of Milt Brown and himself working with songs done by Jimmie Davis, the Skillet Lickers, "One Star Rag", "Rat Cheese Under the Hill", "Take Me Back to Tulsa", "Basin Street Blues", "Steel Guitar Rag", and "Trouble in Mind" were some of the songs in Wills' extensive repertory.
The Texas Playboys
After forming a new band, The Playboys, and relocating to Waco, Texas, Wills found enough popularity there to decide on a bigger market. They left Waco in January 1934 for Oklahoma City. Wills soon settled the renamed Texas Playboys in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and began broadcasting noon shows over the 50,000-watt KVOO radio station. Their 12:30–1:15 pm, Monday–Friday broadcasts became a veritable institution in the region. Nearly all of the daily (except Sunday) shows originated from the stage of Cain's Ballroom. In addition, they played dances in the evenings, including regular ones at the ballroom on Thursdays and Saturdays.
Wills added a trumpet to the band inadvertently when he hired Everet Stover as an announcer, not knowing that he had played with the New Orleans symphony and had directed the governor's band in Austin. Stover, thinking he had been hired as a trumpeter, began playing with the band with no comment from Wills. Young sax player Zeb McNally was allowed to play with the band, although Wills initially discouraged it. With two horns in the band, Wills realized he would have to add a drummer to balance things and create a fuller sound. He hired the young, "modern-style musician" Smoky Dacus.
By 1935, Wills had added horn and reed players as well as drums to the Playboys. The addition of steel guitar whiz Leon McAuliffe in March 1935 added not only a formidable instrumentalist, but also a second engaging vocalist. Wills largely sang blues and sentimental ballads. Wills and the Texas Playboys did their first recordings on September 23–25, 1935, in Dallas. Session rosters from 1938 show both lead guitar and electric guitar in addition to guitar and steel guitar in the Texas Playboys recordings. Wills' 1938 recording of "Ida Red" served as a model for Chuck Berry's decades later version of the same song "Maybellene".
In 1940, Wills, along with the Texas Playboys, co-starred with Tex Ritter in Take Me Back to Oklahoma. Other films followed. In December 1942, after several band members had left the group, and as World War II raged, Wills joined the army at the age of 37, but he received a medical discharge in 1943.
Wills also appeared in The Lone Prairie (1942), Riders Of The Northwest Mounted (1943), Saddles and Sagebrush (1943), The Vigilantes Ride (1943), The Last Horseman (1944), Rhythm Round-Up (1945), Blazing the Western Trail (1945), and Lawless Empire (1945). According to one source, he appeared in a total of 19 films.
After leaving the Army in 1943, Wills moved to Hollywood, moving into a rented house in September, and began to reorganize the Texas Playboys. He became an enormous draw in Los Angeles, where many of his Texas, Oklahoma and regional fans had relocated during the Great Depression and World War II in search of jobs. Monday through Friday, the band broadcast from 12:01 to 1:00 p.m. PT over KMTR-AM (now KLAC) in Los Angeles. They also played regularly every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night at the Mission Beach Ballroom in San Diego.
He commanded enormous fees playing dances there, and began to make more creative use of electric guitars to replace the big horn sections the Tulsa band had boasted. For a very brief period in 1944, the Wills band included 23 members, and around mid-year he toured Northern California and the Pacific Northwest with 21 pieces in the orchestra. Billboard reported that Wills out-grossed Harry James, Benny Goodman, "both Dorseys, et al." at Civic Auditorium in Oakland, California in January 1944.
Wills and His Texas Playboys began their first cross-country tour in November 1944, and appeared at the Grand Ole Opry on December 30, 1944. According to Opry policy, drums and horns were considered pop instruments, inappropriate to country music. The Opry had two western swing bands on its roster, led by Pee Wee King and Paul Howard. Neither were allowed to use their drummers at the Opry. Wills' band at the time consisted of two fiddlers, two bass fiddles, two electric guitars, electric steel guitar, and a trumpet. Wills's then-drummer was Monte Mountjoy, who played in the Dixieland style. Wills battled Opry officials and refused to perform without his drummer. An attempt to compromise by keeping Mountjoy behind a curtain collapsed when Wills had his drums placed front and center onstage at the last minute.
In 1945, Wills' dances were outdrawing those of Tommy Dorsey and Benny Goodman, and he moved to Fresno, California. Then in 1947, he opened the Wills Point nightclub in Sacramento, California and continued touring the Southwest and Pacific Northwest from Texas to Washington State. While based in Sacramento, his radio broadcasts over 50,000-watt KFBK were heard all over the West.
Famous swing orchestras in California realized that many of their followers were leaving to dance to Bob Will's Western swing. Because he was in such demand, some places booked Wills any time he had an opening, regardless of how undesirable the date. The manager of a popular auditorium in the LA Basin town of Wilmington, California: "Although Monday night dancing is frankly an experiment it was the only night of the week on which this outstanding band could be secured."
During the postwar period, KGO radio in San Francisco syndicated a Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys show recorded at the Fairmont Hotel. Many of these recordings survive today as the Tiffany Transcriptions and are available on CD. They show off the band's strengths significantly, in part because the group was not confined to the three-minute limits of 78 RPM discs. On April 3, 1948, Wills and the Texas Playboys appeared for the inaugural broadcast of the Louisiana Hayride on KWKH, broadcasting from the Municipal Auditorium in Shreveport, Louisiana.
Wills and the Texas Playboys played dances throughout the West to more than 10,000 people every week. They held dance attendance records at Jantzen Beach in Portland, Oregon; in Santa Monica, California, and at the Oakland (California) Auditorium, where they drew 19,000 people in two nights. Wills also broke an attendance record of 2,100 previously held by Jan Garber at the Armory in Klamath Falls, Oregon, by attracting 2,514 dancers. Wills and the Playboys also played small towns on the West Coast. Actor Clint Eastwood recalled seeing Wills when he was 18 or 19 (1948 or 1949) and working at a pulp mill in Springfield, Oregon.
Appearances at the Bostonia Ballroom in San Diego continued throughout the 1950s.
Still a binge drinker, Wills became increasingly unreliable in the late 1940s, causing a rift with Tommy Duncan (who bore the brunt of audience anger when Wills's binges prevented him from appearing). It ended when he fired Duncan in the fall of 1948.
Having lived a lavish lifestyle in California, Wills moved back to Oklahoma City in 1949, then went back on the road to maintain his payroll and Wills Point. He opened a second club, the Bob Wills Ranch House in Dallas, Texas. Turning the club over to managers, later revealed to be dishonest, left Wills in desperate financial straits with heavy debts to the IRS for back taxes. This caused him to sell many assets, including, mistakenly, the rights to "New San Antonio Rose". It wrecked him financially.
In 1950, Wills had two top 10 hits, "Ida Red Likes the Boogie" and "Faded Love". After 1950, radio stations began to increasingly specialize in one form or another of commercially popular music. Wills did not fit into the popular Nashville country and western stations, although he was usually labeled "country and western". Neither did he fit into the pop or middle of the road stations, although he played a good deal of pop music, and was not accepted in the pop music world.
He continued to tour and record through the 1950s into the early 1960s despite the fact that Western Swing's popularity, even in the Southwest, had greatly diminished. Bob could draw "a thousand people on Monday night between 1950 and 1952, but he could not do that by 1956. Entertainment habits had changed."
On Wills' return to Tulsa late in 1957, Jim Downing of the Tulsa Tribune wrote an article headlined "Wills Brothers Together Again: Bob Back with Heavy Beat". The article quotes Wills as saying "Rock and roll? Why, man, that's the same kind of music we've been playin' since 1928! ... We didn't call it rock and roll back when we introduced it as our style back in 1928, and we don't call it rock and roll the way we play it now. But it's just basic rhythm and has gone by a lot of different names in my time. It's the same, whether you just follow a drum beat like in Africa or surround it with a lot of instruments. The rhythm's what's important." The use of amplified guitars accentuates Wills's claim; some Bob Wills recordings from the 1930s and 1940s sound similar to rock and roll records of the 1950s.
Even a 1958 return to KVOO, where his younger brother Johnnie Lee Wills had maintained the family's presence, did not produce the success he hoped. He appeared twice on ABC-TV's Jubilee USA and kept the band on the road into the 1960s. After two heart attacks, in 1965 he dissolved the Texas Playboys (who briefly continued as an independent unit) to perform solo with house bands. While he did well in Las Vegas and other areas, and made records for the Kapp Records label, he was largely a forgotten figure—even though inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1968. A 1969 stroke left his right side paralyzed, ending his active career. He did, however, recover sufficiently to appear in a wheelchair at various Wills tributes held in the early 1970s. A revival of interest in his music, spurred by Merle Haggard's 1970 album A Tribute to the Best Damn Fiddle Player in the World, led to a 1973 reunion album, teaming Wills, who spoke with difficulty, with key members of the early band, as well as Haggard.
May 26, 1975 issue of Time (Milestones section) read: "Died. Bob Wills, 70, "Western Swing" bandleader-composer; of pneumonia; in Fort Worth. Wills turned out dance tunes that are now called country rock, introducing with his Texas Playboys such C & W classics as Take Me Back to Tulsa and New San Antonio Rose".
Bob Wills was married six times and divorced five times. He was twice married to, and divorced from Mary Helen Brown, the widow of Wills' ex-band member Milton Brown.
- Edna Posey, married 1926, divorced 1935 (one daughter, Robbie Joe Wills)
- Ruth McMaster, married 1936, divorced 1936
- Mary Helen Brown, married 1938, divorced 1938, remarried 1938, divorced 1939
- Mary Louise Parker, married 1939, divorced 1939 (one daughter, Rosetta Wills)
- Betty Anderson, married 1942 (four children, James Robert II, Carolyn, Diane, and Cindy Wills)
Wills' style influenced performers Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, and The Strangers and helped to spawn a style of music now known as the Bakersfield Sound. (Bakersfield, California was one of Wills' regular stops in his heyday). A 1970 tribute album by Haggard, A Tribute to the Best Damn Fiddle Player in the World (or, My Salute to Bob Wills) directed a wider audience to Wills' music, as did the appearance of younger "revival" bands like Asleep at the Wheel and Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen plus the growing popularity of longtime Wills disciple and fan Willie Nelson. By 1971, Wills recovered sufficiently to travel occasionally and appear at tribute concerts. In 1973, he participated in a final reunion session with members of some the Texas Playboys from the 1930s to the 1960s. Merle Haggard was invited to play at this reunion. The session, scheduled for two days, took place in December 1973, with the album to be titled For the Last Time. Wills, speaking or attempting to holler, appeared on a couple tracks from the first day's session but suffered a stroke overnight. He had a more severe one a few days later. The musicians completed the album without him. Wills by then was comatose. He lingered until his death on May 13, 1975.
Reviewing For the Last Time in Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies (1981), Robert Christgau wrote: "This double-LP doesn't represent the band at its peak. But though earlier recordings of most of these classic tunes are at least marginally sharper, it certainly captures the relaxed, playful, eclectic Western swing groove that Wills invited in the '30s."
In addition to being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1968, Wills was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the Early Influence category along with the Texas Playboys in 1999, and received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.
From 1974 until his 2002 death, Waylon Jennings performed a song he had written called "Bob Wills Is Still the King". Released as the B-side of a single that was a double-sided hit, it went to number one on the country charts. The song has become a staple of classic country radio station formats. In addition, The Rolling Stones performed this song live in Austin, Texas at Zilker Park on their A Bigger Bang Tour, a shout-out to Wills. This performance was included on their subsequent DVD The Biggest Bang. In a 1968 issue of Guitar Player, rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix said of Wills and the Playboys: "I dig them. The Grand Ole Opry used to come on, and I used to watch that. They used to have some pretty heavy cats, some heavy guitar players." In fact, Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys only performed on the Opry twice: in 1944 and 1948. Hendrix almost surely referred to Nashville guitarists.
Wills ranked #27 in CMT's 40 Greatest Men in Country Music in 2003.
During the 49th Grammy Awards in 2007, Carrie Underwood performed his song "San Antonio Rose". Today, George Strait performs Wills' music on concert tours and records songs influenced by Wills and his Texas-style swing.
The Austin-based Western swing band Asleep at the Wheel have honored Wills' music since the band's inception, mostly notably with their continuing performances of the musical drama A Ride with Bob, which debuted in Austin in March 2005 to coincide with celebrations of Wills' 100th birthday.
The Bob Wills Birthday Celebration is held every year in March at the Cain's Ballroom in Tulsa, Oklahoma with a Western swing concert and dance.
In 2004, a documentary film about his life and music, titled Fiddlin' Man: The Life and Music of Bob Wills, was released by VIEW Inc.
Bob Wills was honored in Episode 2 of Ken Burn's 2019 series on PBS called Country Music.
|1949||Round Up||Columbia Records|
|1960||Together Again (w/ Tommy Duncan)||Liberty|
|1961||A Living Legend|
|1961||Mr. Words & Mr. Music (w/ Tommy Duncan)|
|1963||Bob Wills Sings and Plays|
|1965||Bob Wills Keepsake Album No. 1||Longhorn|
|1966||From the Heart of Texas||33||Kapp|
|1967||King of Western Swing||43|
|1968||Here's That Man Again||24|
|1973||Bob Wills Plays the Greatest String Band Hits||28||MCA|
|1974||For the Last Time||28||United Artists|
|1975||The Best of Bob Wills Vol. II||36||MCA|
|1976||Remembering ... The Greatest Hits of Bob Wills||46||Columbia|
|Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys in Concert||44||Capitol|
|1977||24 Great Hits by Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys||39||MGM|
|1935||"St. Louis Blues" / "Four or Five Times"||Vocalion 03076|
|"Good Old Oklahoma" / "Mexicali Rose"||Vocalion 03086|
|"Osage Stomp" / "Get with It"||Vocalion 03096|
|1936||"Sitting on Top of the World" / "Black and Blue Rag"||Vocalion 03139|
|"I Can't Be Satisfied" / "Wang Wang Blues"||Vocalion 03173|
|"I Ain't Got Nobody (and Nobody Cares for Me)" / "Who Walks in When I Walk Out?"||Vocalion 03206|
|"Spanish Two Step" / "Blue River"||Vocalion 03230|
|"I Can't Give You Anything but Love" / "Never No More Blues"||Vocalion 03264|
|"Old Fashioned Love" / "Oklahoma Rag"||Vocalion 03295|
|"Trouble in Mind" / "Weary of the Same Ol' Stuff"||Vocalion 03343|
|"Basin Street Blues" / "Red Hot Gal of Mine"||Vocalion 03344|
|"Sugar Blues" / "Fan It"||Vocalion 03361|
|"Smith's Reel" / "Harmony"||Melotone 6-11-58|
|"Steel Guitar Rag" / "Swing Blues No. 1"||Vocalion 03394|
|1937||"She's Killing Me" / "What's the Matter with the Mill?"||Vocalion 03424|
|"Get Along Home Cindy" / "Right or Wrong"||Vocalion 03451|
|"Mean Mama Blues" / "Bring It on Down to My House"||Vocalion 03492|
|"No Matter How She Done It (She's Just a Dirty Dame)" / "Too Busy!"||Vocalion 03537|
|"Back Home Again in Indiana" / "Swing Blues No. 2"||Vocalion 03578|
|"Dedicated to You" / "Bleeding Hearted Blues"||Vocalion 03597|
|"White Heat" / "Bluin' the Blues"||Vocalion 03614|
|"I'm a Ding Dong Daddy (from Dumas)" / "Rosetta"||Vocalion 03659|
|"The New St. Louis Blues" / "Oozlin' Daddy Blues"||Vocalion 03693|
|"Playboy Stomp" / "Tie Me to Your Apron Strings Again"||Vocalion 03854|
|1938||"Maiden's Prayer" / "Never No More Hard Time Blues"||Vocalion 03924|
|"Steel Guitar Stomp" / "Sunbonnet Sue"||Vocalion 03997|
|"Black Rider" / "Everybody Does It in Hawaii"||Vocalion 04132|
|"Keep Knocking (but You Can't Come In" / "Empty Bed Blues"||Vocalion 04184|
|"Alexander's Ragtime Band" / "Gambling Polka Dot Blues"||Vocalion 04275|
|"Tulsa Stomp" / "Little Red Head"||Vocalion 04235|
|"Loveless Love" / "Way Down upon the Swanee River"||Vocalion 04387|
|"Moonlight and Roses (Bring Mem'ries of You)" / "I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate"||Vocalion 04439|
|"Oh, Lady Be Good" / "Oh You Beautiful Doll"||Vocalion 04515|
|1939||"I Wonder if You Feel the Way I Do" / "That's What I Like About the South"||Vocalion 04566|
|"Whoa Babe" / "Little Girl, Go Ask Your Mama"||Vocalion 04625|
|"San Antonio Rose" / "The Convict and the Rose"||Vocalion 04755|
|"You're Okay" / "Liza Pull Down the Shades"||Vocalion 04839|
|"Silver Bells" / "Yearning Just for You"||Vocalion 04934|
|"Beaumont Rag" / "The Waltz You Saved for Me"||Vocalion 04999|
|"Ida Red" / "Carolina in the Morning"||Vocalion 05079|
|"Dreamy Eyes Waltz" / "My Window Faces the South"||Vocalion 05161|
|"If I Could Bring Back My Buddy" / "Prosperity Special"||Vocalion 05228|
|1940||"Don't Let the Deal Go Down" / "Drunkard Blues"||Vocalion 05282|
|"Blue Prelude" / "Sophisticated Hula"||Vocalion 05333|
|"Pray for the Lights to Go Out" / "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star"||Vocalion 05401|
|"Blue Bonnet Rag" / "La Golondrina / Medley of Spanish Waltzes / Lady of Spain / Cielito Lindo"||Vocalion 05523|
|"You Don't Love Me (but I'll Always Care)" / "No Wonder"||Vocalion 05597|
|"Lone Star Rag" / "I Don't Lov'a Nobody"||OKeh 05637|
|"New San Antonio Rose" / "Bob Wills' Special"||OKeh 05694|
|"That Brownskin Gal" / "Time Changes Everything"||OKeh 05753|
|"There's Going to Be a Party (for the Old Folks)" / "Big Beaver"||OKeh 05905|
|1941||"Take Me Back to Tulsa" / "New Worried Mind"||OKeh 06101|
|"Maiden's Prayer" / "Takin' It Home"||OKeh 06205|
|"Twin Guitar Special" / "Lyla Lou"||OKeh 06327|
|"Bob Wills' Stomp" / "Lil Liza Jane"||OKeh 06371|
|"Corrine, Corrina" / "Goodnight Little Sweetheart"||OKeh 06530|
|1942||"Cherokee Maiden" / "Ride On! (My Prairie Pinto)"||OKeh 06568|
|"Dusty Skies" / "It's All Your Fault"||OKeh 06598|
|"Oh! You Pretty Woman" / "I Knew the Moment I Lost You"||OKeh 06640|
|"Please Don't Leave Me" / "My Life's Been a Pleasure"||OKeh 6681|
|"This Little Rosary" / "When It's Honey Suckle Time in the Valley" (Unreleased)||OKeh 6692|
|"Ten Years" / "Let's Ride with Bob (Theme Song)"||OKeh 6692|
|"My Confession" / "Whose Heart Are You Breaking Now?"||OKeh 6703|
|1943||"Home in San Antone" / "Miss Molly"||OKeh 6710|
|1944||"We Might as Well Forget It" / "You're from Texas"||2||OKeh 6722|
|1945||"Goodbye, Liza Jane" / It Seems Like Yesterday" (Unreleased)||OKeh 6734|
|"Smoke on the Water"||1||OKeh 6736|
|/ "Hang Your Head in Shame"||3|
|"Stars and Stripes on Iwo Jima"||1||OKeh 6742|
|/ "You Don't Care What Happens to Me"||5|
|"Silver Dew on the Blue Grass Tonight"||1||Columbia 36841|
|/ "Texas Playboy Rag"||2|
|"White Cross on Okinawa"||1||Columbia 36881|
|/ "Empty Chair at the Christmas Table"|
|1946||"New Spanish Two Step"||1||Columbia 36966|
|/ "Roly Poly"||3|
|"Stay a Little Longer"||2||Columbia 37097|
|/ "I Can't Go on This Way"||4|
|"Cotton Eyed Joe" / "Staccato Waltz"||Columbia 37212|
|1947||"There's a Big Rock in the Road"||Columbia 37205|
|/ "I'm Gonna Be Boss from Now On"||5|
|"Sugar Moon"||1||Columbia 37313|
|/ "Brain Cloudy Blues"|
|"Rose of Old Pawnee"||Columbia 37357|
|/ "Bob Wills Boogie"||4|
|"How Can It Be Wrong?" / "Punkin' Stomp"||Columbia 37564|
|"Fat Boy Rag" / "You Should Have Thought of That Before"||Columbia 37824|
|"Liberty" / "The Kind of Love I Can't Forget"||Columbia 37926|
|"A Sweet Kind of Love" / "Cowboy Stomp"||Columbia 37988|
|"Spanish Fandango""||MGM 10116|
|/ "Bubbles in My Beer"||4|
|1948||"Texarkana Baby"||15||Columbia 38179|
|"Keeper of My Heart"||8||MGM 10175|
|"'Neath Hawaiian Palms"||MGM 10236|
|/ "Thorn in My Heart"||10|
|1950||"Ida Red Likes the Boogie"||10||MGM 10570|
|"Faded Love"||8||MGM 10786|
|"'Tater Pie" / "I Didn't Realize"||MGM 10836|
|1960||"Heart to Heart Talk" (w/ Tommy Duncan)||5||Liberty 55260|
|1961||"The Image of Me" (w/ Tommy Duncan)||26||Liberty 55264|
|1976||"Ida Red" (re-release)||99||Vocalion 05079|
- Mazor, Barry (February 11, 2009). "The Tiffany Transcriptions, Back and Better". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on February 7, 2015. Retrieved January 13, 2010.
- Wolff, Country Music, "Big Balls in Cowtown: Western Swing from Fort Worth to Fresno", p. 29: If any single person deserves to be considered the 'father' of western swing, it must be Bob Wills."
- West, "Trails and Footprints", p. 39: "Snyder [Texas] hosts the West Texas Western Swing Festival ('Come Fiddle Around in Snyder'), recognizing the regional origins of the father of western swing, Bob Wills, from Turkey (a bit more than a hundred miles due north in Hall County) ..."
- "82(R) SCR 35 – Enrolled version – Bill Text". Legis.state.tx.us. Archived from the original on February 7, 2015. Retrieved October 7, 2015.
- "Inductee Explorer | Rock & Roll Hall of Fame". Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on March 29, 2018. Retrieved March 28, 2018.
- This Tiny Texas Town is a Must-See for Bob Wills Fans Archived April 14, 2018, at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 2018-04-13.
- "Ancestry of Bob Wills". Wargs.com. Archived from the original on September 14, 2007. Retrieved May 2, 2010.
- San Antonio Rose: The Life and Music of Bob Wills by Charles Townsend and Charles R. Townsend, p. 2
- Charles R. Townsend. San Antonio Rose: The Life and Music of Bob Wills. p. 2.
- Milton Brown and the Founding of Western Swing. Cary Ginell. 1994. University of Illinois Press; ISBN 0-252-02041-3.
- San Antonio Rose: The Life and Music of Bob Wills. Charles R. Townsend. 1976. University of Illinois. p. 17; ISBN 0-252-00470-1.
- San Antonio Rose: The Life and Music of Bob Wills. Charles R. Townsend. 1976. University of Illinois. p. 4; ISBN 0-252-00470-1
- Denize Springer (February 23, 2005). "SF State News". San Francisco State University. Archived from the original on November 17, 2007. Retrieved May 2, 2010.
- San Antonio Rose: The Life and Music of Bob Wills. Charles R. Townsend. 1976. University of Illinois. p. 3; ISBN 0-252-00470-1
- San Antonio Rose: The Life and Music of Bob Wills. Charles R. Townsend. 1976. University of Illinois. p. 16; ISBN 0-252-00470-1
- Hubbin' It. Ruth Sheldon. 1995. Country Music Foundation Press. first published 1938, pp. 76, 80, 81; ISBN 0-915608-18-9
- San Antonio Rose: The Life and Music of Bob Wills. Charles R. Townsend. 1976. University of Illinois, pp. 14, 21–22; ISBN 0-252-00470-1
- San Antonio Rose: The Life and Music of Bob Wills. Charles R. Townsend. 1976. University of Illinois. p. 45; ISBN 0-252-00470-1.
- Country Music Records – A Discography, 1921–1942. Tony Russell. 2008. Oxford University Press. p. 960; ISBN 978-0-19-536621-1
- San Antonio Rose: The Life and Music of Bob Wills. Charles R. Townsend. 1976. University of Illinois. p. 107; ISBN 0-252-00470-1
- San Antonio Rose: The Life and Music of Bob Wills. Charles R. Townsend. 1976. University of Illinois. p. 46; ISBN 0-252-00470-1.
- Milton Brown and the Founding of Western Swing. Cary Ginell. 1994. University of Illinois Press. pp. 32–33; ISBN 0-252-02041-3.
- Milton Brown and the Founding of Western Swing. Cary Ginell. 1994. University of Illinois Press. pp. 245–46; ISBN 0-252-02041-3.
- San Antonio Rose: The Life and Music of Bob Wills. Charles R. Townsend. 1976. University of Illinois. p. 40; ISBN 0-252-00470-1.
- "Texas Music History Online". ctmh.its.txstate.edu. Archived from the original on November 2, 2007. Retrieved May 2, 2010.
- A. Schneider. "Honky Tonks, Hymns and the Blues". NPR. Archived from the original on September 14, 2013. Retrieved May 2, 2010.
- Billy Abbott (March 7, 1924). "Gid Tanner And The Skillet Lickers". Southernmusic.net. Archived from the original on March 2, 2007. Retrieved May 2, 2010.
- Friskics-Warren, Bill (December 24, 2006). "Bob Wills: His Rollicking Roots Are Showing". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on December 23, 2016. Retrieved November 15, 2014.
- Dance Across Texas. by Betty Casey. 1985. University of Texas Press. p. 43; ISBN 0-292-71551-X.
- San Antonio Rose: The Life and Music of Bob Wills. Charles R. Townsend. 1976. University of Illinois. page 342, 343. ISBN 0-252-00470-1
- "Bob Wills". Famoustexans.com. May 13, 1975. Archived from the original on October 21, 2006. Retrieved May 2, 2010.
- Chet Flippo (July 13, 2006). "NASHVILLE SKYLINE: Two Country Giants Get Musical Tributes". CMT. Archived from the original on February 20, 2009. Retrieved May 2, 2010.
- "The Inflation Calculator". Westegg.com. Archived from the original on March 26, 2018. Retrieved October 7, 2015.
- San Antonio Rose: The Life and Music of Bob Wills. Charles R. Townsend. 1976. University of Illinois, p. 237; ISBN 0-252-00470-1
- *Take Me Back to Oklahoma on IMDb
- "Bob Wills Joins the Army". Billboard. December 26, 1942. p. 18. Archived from the original on May 5, 2016. Retrieved March 21, 2013.
- Charles R. Townsend. "Handbook of Texas Online – WILLS, JAMES ROBERT". Tshaonline.org. Archived from the original on March 14, 2016. Retrieved May 2, 2010.
- "History". bobwills.com. Archived from the original on April 21, 2010. Retrieved May 2, 2010.
- "Bob Wills : Biography". CMT.com. Archived from the original on December 2, 2006. Retrieved May 2, 2010.
- San Antonio Rose. page 229
- San Antonio Rose: The Life and Music of Bob Wills. Charles R. Townsend. 1976. University of Illinois. p. 241. ISBN 0-252-00470-1.
- San Antonio Rose: The Life and Music of Bob Wills. Charles R. Townsend. 1976. University of Illinois. p. 350. ISBN 0-252-00470-1.
- Billboard February 5, 1944. Vol. 56, No. 6. p. 62.
- Southwest Shuffle: Pioneers of Honky Tonk, Western Swing, and Country Jazz by Rich Kienzle p 255
- Gerald W. Haslam. Workin' Man Blues: Country Music In California. University of California Press. 1999. p. 82; ISBN 0-520-21800-0.
- San Antonio Rose: The Life and Music of Bob Wills. Charles R. Townsend. 1976. University of Illinois. p. 252. ISBN 0-252-00470-1.
- The King of Western Swing – Bob Wills Remembered. Rosetta Wills. 1998. p. 165. ISBN 0-8230-7744-6. The author has a magazine clipping, but doesn't specify the magazine or date.
- "San Diego Concert Archive". San Diego Concert Archive. December 31, 1999. Archived from the original on February 6, 2019. Retrieved October 7, 2015.
- Townsend, Charles (1986). San Antonio Rose: The Life and Music of Bob Wills. University of Illinois Press. p. 263. ISBN 9780252013621.
- San Antonio Rose: The Life and Music of Bob Wills. Charles R. Townsend. 1976. University of Illinois. p. 281. ISBN 0-252-00470-1.
- San Antonio Rose: The Life and Music of Bob Wills. Charles R. Townsend. 1976. University of Illinois. p. 267. ISBN 0-252-00470-1.
- San Antonio Rose: The Life and Music of Bob Wills. Charles R. Townsend. 1976. University of Illinois. pp. 268, 269. ISBN 0-252-00470-1.
- "Junior Barnard". Texasplayboys.net. Archived from the original on April 16, 2016. Retrieved October 7, 2015.
- "Milestones". – Time (magazine). – May 26, 1975.
- Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: W". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved March 22, 2019 – via robertchristgau.com.
- "Wills swings into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame | Amarillo.com | Amarillo Globe-News". Amarillo.com. May 11, 1999. Archived from the original on November 23, 2015. Retrieved October 7, 2015.
- San Antonio Rose: The Life and Music of Bob Wills. Charles R. Townsend. 1976. University of Illinois. p. 293. ISBN 0-252-00470-1.
- "Dixie Chicks Enjoy Sweet Victory at Grammys". Country Music Television. February 12, 2007. Archived from the original on February 18, 2008. Retrieved March 4, 2013.
- "Week 23: George Strait, The Exception". The A.V. Club. November 17, 2009. Archived from the original on February 19, 2013. Retrieved March 4, 2013.
- "A Ride With Bob". A Ride With Bob. Archived from the original on May 9, 2008. Retrieved May 2, 2010.
- John P. Meyer, "Texas legislates an official state music: Western swing" Archived May 27, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, Pegasus News, May 24, 2011.
- "Fiddle festival, contest honoring Wills to start playing today". Heraldbanner.com. Retrieved January 16, 2020.
- "About". Bobwillsfiddlefest.com. Retrieved January 16, 2020.
- Townsend, Charles R. (1998). "Bob Wills". In The Encyclopedia of Country Music. Paul Kinsbury, Editor. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 594–5.
- West, Elliot. "Trails and Footprints: The Past of the Future Southern Plains". The Future of the Southern Plains (pp. 17–37) edited by Sherry L. Smith. University of Oklahoma Press, 2005. ISBN 978-0-8061-3735-3
- Whitburn, Joel. The Billboard Book of Top 40 Country Hits. Billboard Books, 2006. ISBN 0-8230-8291-1
- Wolff, Kurt; Orla Duane. Country Music: The Rough Guide. Rough Guides, 2000. ISBN 1-85828-534-8
- Official Web site and virtual museum
- Texas Playboys Web site
- Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
- The Bob Wills Tiffany Transcriptions
- Famous Texans
- Bob Wills at Find a Grave
(Ahmet Ertegun Award)