Bob Wills

Bob Wills' name will forever be associated with Western swing. Although he did not invent the genre single-handedly, he did popularize the genre and changed its rules. In the process, he reinvented the rules of popular music. Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys were a dance band with a country string section that played pop songs as if they were jazz numbers. Their music expanded and erased boundaries between genres. It was also some of the most popular music of its era. Throughout the '40s, the band was one of the most popular groups in the country and the musicians in the Playboys were among the finest of their era. As the popularity of Western swing declined, so did Wills' popularity, but his influence is immeasurable. From the first honky tonkers to Western swing revivalists, generations of country artists owe him a significant debt, as do certain rock and jazz musicians. Wills was a maverick and his spirit infused American popular music of the 20th century with a renegade, virtuosic flair.