Sunday, May 10, 2015
– Fiddling great Johnny Gimble, who was a member of Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys, died on Saturday at 88 in Dripping Springs, Texas. He suffered several strokes in recent years.
Gimble was born May 30, 1926 in Tyler Texas and started playing music in a band with his brothers by the time he was 12. After serving in World War II, he returned to Texas to play with radio and dance bands. By 1949, he was a member of Wills' band with whom he toured for most of the next decade.
Gimble played fiddle and electric violin with Wills. Gimble utilized a five-string fiddle, whereas most fiddlers used four strings. By the early 1950s, Gimble settled in Dallas and performed on the weekly variety show, The Big D Jamboree. He formed his own group in 1951, playing at Wills' clubs in Fort Worth, Texas and Oklahoma City, Okla. Two years later, he rejoined Willis, playing with him until the early 1960s.
By the late 1960s, Gimble eventually moved to Nashville where he worked as a session musician. He played with Merle Haggard on his Wills tribute release, Conway Twitty, Connie Smith, Ray Price, Willie Nelson, Lefty Frizzell and Chet Atkins (his 1974 album "Superpickers"). He also recorded 10 solo albums.
Gimble toured with Nelson from 1979-81. He later appeared on Austin City Limits and Garrison Keillor's radio shows. Gimble won five Best Instrumentalist Awards from the Country Music Awards and nine Best Fiddle Player honors from the Academy of Country Music. He also won two Grammys: for his arrangement of "Red Wing" on Asleep at the Wheel's 1994 tribute disc and the following year for Best Country Instrumental Performance for "Hightower" with Asleep at the Wheel.