Art&Seek presents This Week in Texas Music History. Every week, we’ll spotlight a different moment and the musician who made it. This week, Texas music scholar Gary Hartman celebrate a jazz musician who gained fame playing country music.
You can also hear This Week in Texas Music History on Sunday at precisely 6:04 p.m. on KERA radio. But subscribe to the podcast so you won’t miss an episode. And our thanks to KUT public radio in Austin for helping us bring this segment to you. And if you’re a music lover, be sure to check out Track by Track, the bi-weekly podcast from Paul Slavens, host of KXT’s The Paul Slavens Show, heard Sunday night’s at 8.
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Al Stricklin was born in Antioch, Texas, on Jan. 29, 1908. Stricklin always considered himself a jazz pianist and played in a variety of jazz bands during the 1920s. In 1930, he was working at Fort Worth’s KFJZ radio when a young fiddler named Bob Wills stopped by and asked to perform on the air. Although Stricklin was skeptical, he allowed Wills to play. The audience loved the music, and Bob Wills soon had one of the most popular Western Swing bands in North Texas. Stricklin ended up playing piano with Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys from 1935 to 1941, appearing on many of the group’s most popular recordings.
In 1973, Al Stricklin reunited with his former band mates to record the Grmmy-award winning album Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys: For the Last Time, which helped reinvigorate Western Swing and make it popular worldwide.
Next time on This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll pay tribute to Texas music royalty.