Bob Wills, the “King of Western Swing,” was an influential country musician and member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Country Music Hall of Fame. The Brady Arts District, specifically Cain’s Ballroom, was his stomping ground from 1934 to 1942. In those years, Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys broadcast their fusion of jazz, hillbilly, boogie, blues, big band swing, rhumba, mariachi and jitterbug, called “Western Swing,” on a daily radio show and for well-attended dances.
Wills’ legacy reaches beyond his popularity in the 1930s and 1940s. Famous musicians, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, both count Bob Wills as a crucial influence. Wills’ music left a lasting mark by pressing electric instruments into country music and introducing a “free spirit of stylistic recombination” featured in rock and roll.