WESTERN SWING KING
James Robert Wills, born in 1905 near the Texas community of Kosse, learned to play frontier fiddle music from his father and grandfather. But he also learned to play blues and jazz, picking up the style from African Americans coworking the cottonfields with him in west Texas. Wills combined these styles to create one all his own called western swing and in the process transformed American folk music. The achievement earned him the title of “King of Western Swing” and his influence can clearly be heard in musical greats of the 20th century including Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Eric Clapton, and Willie Nelson. Wills’ contribution to music was recognized with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007, awarded over three decades after his death. The unique sound created by Wills and his Texas Playboys has endured decades of dramatic changes in American musical styles, a remarkable achievement documented among the memorabilia and artifacts catalogued in the Bob Wills Museum. Wills spent much of his childhood around the Texas Plains Trail community of Turkey where citizens, in return, created the museum. Turkey goes one step further as well, sponsoring the annual Bob Wills Day with live music and a celebratory atmosphere.