Johnnie Lee Wills

Genres: Country & Bluegrass
Decades Active: 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s

Biography

2 September 1912, on a farm near Kosse, Limestone County, Texas, USA, d. 25 October 1984, Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA. Younger brother of Bob Wills and the fourth of the Wills family’s children. He learned to play the guitar as a child but later played tenor banjo and fiddle. He made his musical debut in 1933, when he became one of brother Bob’s second band, working as Johnnie Lee Wills and His Rhythmaires. He appeared with Bob in the 1940 Tex Ritter film Take Me Back To Oklahoma. In early 1941, he recorded for Decca Records, having success with ‘Milk Cow Blues’. Throughout the 40s and 50s, he led western swing bands, working in conjunction with brother Bob. He played the south-west dance circuits but was mainly centred in Oklahoma City or Tulsa where, until 1964, he played a residency at Cain’s Dancing Academy. In 1950, recording on Bullet, he achieved Top 10 US country and pop chart success with ‘Rag Mop’ (a number he co-wrote with...

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