Famed fiddler Johnny Gimble passes away
Gimble lived in Salado in the 1980s when he wasn’t touring with Willie Nelson, or appearing on Television as member of The Million Dollar Band on Hee Haw and with a variety of musical acts on Austin City Limits.
He was also a frequent guest on A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor.
Gimble began his musical career alongside two of his brothers as the Rose City Swingsters. After moving to Louisiana he began performing with the Jimmie Davis Gubernatorial campaign.
After serving in World War II, Gimble played fiddle on local east Texas radio.
Gimble is best-known for his years playing the fiddle for Bob Wills in the late 1940s and 1950s, where he played fiddle and electric mandolin with Will’s Texas Playboys.
In 1960, he left the Bob Wills Band and moved to Waco, where he had a TV show Johnny Gimble & the Homefolks, on KWTX-TV for three years. He also cut hair during this time and played weekends at local dances.
He and his wife Barbara moved to Nashville in 1968 at a time that interest in traditional swing fiddle playing was increasing among chart-topping country music performers.
In the Nashville part of his career, Gimble recorded with Merle Haggard, Conway Twitty, Connie Smith, Lefty Frizzell, Marty Robbins, Ray Price, Chet Atkins, Willie Nelson and George Strait, among others.
He was named the Instrumentalist of the Year by the Country Music Association in 1975, the first of six times he was to receive this award. The Academy of Country Music named him Fiddler of the Year nine times.
Gimble earned a Grammy award in 1994 for his arrangement “Red Wing” on the Bob Willis tribute album by Asleep at the Wheel and again in 1995- for Best Country Instrumental Performance for “Hightower” with Asleep At The Wheel.
He was honored by the National Endowment of the Arts as a 1994 NEA National Heritage Fellow.
His last album, Celebrating with Friends features duos with long-time collaborators Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Vince Gill, Dale Watson, son Dick Gimble and grand daughter Emily Gimble.
John Paul Gimble was born in Tyler, Texas on May 30, 1926. He grew up in the east Texas community of Bascom. He died in a Marble Falls nursing home on May 9, 2015.
Arrangements for a musical, memorial celebration in Austin are pending for some time in June.
Cards & Letters to family can be sent to Johnny Gimble Music, P.O. Box 347, Dripping Springs TX 78620
In lieu of flowers, a contribution to the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians would be most appreciated by the family.