There is an old saying in Texas that goes something like this….“If you’re gonna play music in Texas….you better have a fiddle in the band!”…..and our Bone Daddy, the original Sportsphile, was weened on Texas music…. especially Texas swing music….cuz the fact still remains today that his favorite “fiddlin’ man” was Johnny Gimble. As BD puts it….“I guess there is nobody that I have seen on stage playing music in Texas more than I have seen Johnny Gimble….cuz he was the best of the best when it came to “fiddlin’ around”….and Johnny could play with anybody and any band….as BD has seen him live on stage with the likes of Bob Wills, George Jones, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Conway Twitty, Connie Smith, Loretta Lynn, Lefty Frizzell, Ray Price, Willie Nelson, Chet Atkins,Rickey Skaggs, Dottie West, Vince Gill, Marty Robbins and so many more. The truth be known, Bone Daddy loved to put on his “cowboy duds and s**t kickers”….and pick up his favorite gal and dancing partner….while spending the evening dancing to all songs fiddled by Johnny Gimble….as he probably say Johnny on 50 or so occasions….and loved every dance. So, dedicating this story to Johnny Gimble is a true joy for me….cuz I know how many wonderful memories Bone Daddy has of nights “boot skootin” to the sounds of Johnny Gimble and whomever he was playing with…..for there was just something special about Johnny Gimble’s fiddle that made your feet start dancing….and before you knew it, you’d grab some “pretty filly” and head out to the dance floor for some “thigh hugging” and “butt rockin'” music.
Music – 1936 To 2015 – Special – Johnny Gimble Memorial Tribute
Johnny Gimble (May 30, 1926 – May 9, 2015) was an American country musician associated with Western swing…..who was considered one of the most important fiddlers in the genre throughout history . He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999 in the early influences category as a member of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys…..and was posthumously inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2018.
Music – 1981 – Special – “Gimble’s Swing” – Profile of Johnny Gimble And His Life In Western Swing
Gimble was born in Tyler, Texas, United States, and grew up in nearby Bascom. He began playing in a band with his brothers at age 12, and continued playing with two of them, George and Jerry, as the Rose City Swingsters. The trio played local radio gigs, but soon after Gimble moved to Louisiana and began performing with the Jimmie Davis gubernatorial campaign. He returned to Texas after completing his service in the U.S. Army in World War II
Music – 1990 – Austin City Limits – Johnny Gimble & Texas Swing – Twin Fiddle Instrumental – “Liebestraum”
Back in Texas, Gimble continued to hone his fiddling skills with a number of Texas radio and dance bands. In 1948 he made his first recording, playing with Robert Bro’s Rhythmairs in Corpus Christi. A year later he joined Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, with whom he toured for most of the next decade. With Wills, he played both fiddle and electric mandolin, and distinguished himself by using a five-string fiddle (most fiddles have four strings).
Music – 1985 – Austin City Limits – With Pete Fountain + Johnny Gimble – “Back Home In Indiana”
His fiddling style was influenced by other Texas fiddlers who played the “breakdown” fiddle tunes….but Gimble’s fiddling style, while uniquely his own, came to be known as the “Texas fiddling style” that emerged during the first half of the twentieth century among fiddlers such as Cliff Bruner, Louis Tierney and Jesse Ashlock…..as Gimble learned from them….then further developed while playing with Wills….who epitomized and promoted a new sound known as Western swing. Western swing rose to national prominence in the 1940’s….while combining the old-time, Southern-derived Anglo string band tradition, with its breakdowns, schottisches, waltzes and reels….with the big band jazz and pop music of the day.
Music – 1978 – Austin City Limits – Johnny Gimble + Cliff Bruner – “Jesse Polka”
After Gimble married Barbara Kemp of Gatesville, Texas in 1949….when he settled in Dallas, where, in the early 1950’s, he began doing radio and television shows with Bill and Jim Boyd of the Lone Star Cowboys….and performed on The Big D Jamboree….which was a weekly variety show broadcast live from the Dallas Sportatorium. He broke off to form his own group in 1951….while performing as the house band at Wills’s clubs in Fort Worth and Oklahoma City….but rejoined in 1953 and continued to play with Wills until the early 1960’s. He played fiddle on Marty Robbins’ #1 hit “I’ll Go on Alone”.
Music – 1950 – Warner Brothers Picture With Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys – “A Rare Story About Western Swing”
In 1955 Gimble, moved to Waco, Texas, and split time between running a barber shop at the regional VA Hospital and music. In 1960 he quit touring with Bob Wills and hosted one of the first locally produced television shows on KWTX, Johnny Gimble & the Homefolks. Gimble’s show featured a young bass player from nearby Abbott, Texas named Willie Nelson….and a lifetime friendship and partnership was born. In 1968, after repeated encouragement from his peers, Johnny moved his family to Nashville, Tennessee. From then on, his steady work as a session musician included sessions with Merle Haggard and The Strangers on their Bob Wills tribute album (A Tribute to the Best Damn Fiddle Player in the World (or, My Salute to Bob Wills))….and with Conway Twitty, Connie Smith, Loretta Lynn, Lefty Frizzell, Ray Price, Willie Nelson and Chet Atkins on Superpickers in 1973. The following year he took a cue from a song “Fiddlin’ Around”….which he had written and performed on the Atkins’ Superpickers album….and recorded his first solo album, titled Fiddlin’ Around. He recorded nine other solo albums.
Music – 1997 – Willie Nelson + Johnny Gimble + Freddie Powers – “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter”
From 1979-81, Gimble toured with Willie Nelson worldwide….and appeared in a supporting role in the film Honeysuckle Rose. In 1983, Gimble assembled a Texas swing group featuring Ray Price on vocals, and charted a country radio hit with “One Fiddle, Two Fiddle”, featured in the Clint Eastwood film Honkytonk Man in which Johnny had a supporting role portraying Bob Wills. He appeared from the 1970s through the 2000s on Austin City Limits on TV and Garrison Keillor’s broadcasts (radio). He was a member of the Million Dollar Band.
Movie & Music – Excerpt From “Honeysuckle Rose” – With Ray Price + Johnny Gimble – “One Fiddle Two Fiddle” And “San Antonion Rose”
Gimble’s career spanned into the 21st century, recording with Vince Gill, Tanya Tucker and performing at the 49th Annual Grammy Awards with Carrie Underwood in 2007. “Until Lloyd Maines surpassed him, Johnny held the record for most appearances on Austin City Limits. He played with heart and soul and had an infectious spirit and sense of adventure – both in his music and personality,” said ACL Executive Producer Terry Lickona. Johnny was also a regular on Minnesota Public Radio’s A Prairie Home Companion hosted by Garrison Keillor….who in 1994 penned “Owed to Johnny Gimble” as a tribute to his friend after Gimble received the NEA’s National Heritage Fellowship….and who performed the song again on May 9, 2015 to commemorate Gimble’s life.
Music – 1985 – Down Home Episode – With Aly Bain + Alvin Crow + Dick Gimble + Junior Daugherty + Johnny Gimble – “Faded Love”
Gimble and his wife Barbara were divorced twice and remarried twice. They had a son and two daughters…..and as of 2020 they had four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Johnny and his son Dick Gimble, a college professor of music at McLennan Community College, started a Western Swing Camp focusing on fiddle. After two years in Waco and with the help of daughter Cyndy they moved the camp to SMU’s Taos Campus….and ensured that the western swing style of country music was passed on to the next generation.
Music – 1987 – Austin City Limits – With Chet Atkins + Thom Bresh + Johnny Gimble + Butch Thompson + Peter Ostroushko
Gimble’s granddaughter, Emily, is a notable vocalist and keyboard player who has performed with Johnny, Asleep at the Wheel, Warren Hood, and Hayes Carll. Emily was a regular member of Asleep at the Wheel as keyboardist and vocalist from 2014-2016….which was a band that frequently partnered with Johnny to bring the music of Bob Wills to newer generations. She has since launched a solo career, based out of Austin, Texas….and followed Johnny’s footsteps as the State Musician of Texas for 2020.
Music – 1986 – Fiddle Playing Special – With Merle Haggard + Tiny Moore + Tiger Bell + Johnny Gimble
From 1975–90, he was nominated 15 times for Instrumentalist of the Year…. and won the Country Music Award five times. Johnny garnered nine Best Fiddle Player awards from the Academy of Country Music…..along with two Grammy awards….with one in 1994 for his arrangement of “Red Wing” on the Bob Wills tribute album by Asleep At The Wheel….and the 2nd in 1995 for Best Country Instrumental Performance for “Hightower” with Asleep At The Wheel. Gimble was nominated for a Grammy for his performance on the 1993 Mark O’Connor album Heroes.
Music – 1993 – Mark O’Connor + Johnny Gimble – “Just Fiddlin’ Around”
In 1994, Gimble was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship as a Master Folk Artist from the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2005, Johnny was named State Musician for the state of Texas. Gimble died at his home in Dripping Springs, Texas on May 9, 2015, aged 88. His daughter stated that her father was “finally rid of the complications from several strokes over the past few years”.
Music – 2011 – Johnny Gimble At Age 84 With The Hot Club Of Cowtown –“Right Or Wrong”
While having the opportunity to review all of the video content with fiddle player extraordinaire Johnny Gimble in this story presented herewith….it becomes simply obvious why Bone Daddy was such a fan of him and his playing….as there is plenty of evidence in this story to support why he paid to see Gimble perform some 50+/- times throughout the nearly 50 years that BD lived in Austin, TX….cuz Johnny Gimble could play any genre of music….but he was the master of Texas Swing….and if a person really enjoys grabbing a pretty girl and twirling her around the dance floor….the was simply no one better to dance to than Johnny Gimble….for he was loved by so many…..as a result of all the joy that he brought to them.
Music – 1936 To 2015 – Special – Waco. Texas Remembers Johnny Gimble – “A Tribute To The World’s Greatest Fiddler”