Personalities | Texas Jim Lewis | Cowboys & Playboys | Country
(Guitar, bass, bandleader, 1909–90)
Texas Jim Lewis is a largely unheralded figure in western swing, but his varied activities deserve far more attention. His career encompassed 1930s stints on New York radio and in vaudeville, and a 1940s run in Hollywood making movies and recording. His Lone Star Cowboys were one of the best bands of the era and served as the training ground for a number of key musicians. A Georgia native, Lewis was in Texas by the early 1930s, working with the Swift-Jewel Cowboys before heading north at mid-decade. Lewis veered between western swing and novelty (in addition to guitar and bass, he played a homemade contraption called the hootenannie and he eventually became a Seattle children’s television-show host), but his bands were musically impeccable and included such notable players as guitarist-vocalist (and Lewis’s half-brother) Jack Rivers, accordionist-arranger Pedro DePaul and guitarist-banjoist Smokey Rogers.
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