Four celebrated fiddlers were honored on February 6 with induction into the National Fiddlers Hall of Fame. The ceremony was held at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame in Tulsa.
The organization, based in Tulsa, has been in existence since 2008. In addition to honoring the greats of the genre, the Hall of Fame is in the process of collecting archival materials, and was created…
“To honor individuals for their contributions to fiddling, to preserve, educate and promote the art of fiddling and it’s historical and social significance.”
This year’s inductees are Byron Berline, Tommy Jackson, Curly Lewis and Benny Thomasson, each a well-respected fiddler in their own right.
Jackson may have been the busiest fiddler in the country in the 1960s, when a solo career in country and square dance fiddling made him a household name. He recorded hundreds of albums, under his own name and as a sideman for the biggest acts in Nashville. He died in 1979.
Thomasson was a legend of Texas fiddling, a tradition he picked up from his family, which included a number of fine fiddlers. Over his life he won the Texas State Fiddle Championship 15 times, and will be long remembered for his distinctive tone and many tuning variations. He passed in 1984.
Lewis is a hero of Texas swing fiddle, and had a long career with Johnnie Lee Wills, Leon McAuliffe, and Hank Thompson. Though he was never a member of Bob Wills’ band, he was a regular fill-in on both fiddle and guitar, and sang with the Texas Playboys many times. He still lives in Tulsa.
Berline remains an active fiddler, after more than 50 years as a performer. He did a stint with Bill Monroe just out of college in 1967, and was the co-writer with Monroe of the classic fiddle tune Gold Rush. There are several fine fiddle records under his name, starting with the highly-influential Pickin’ and Fiddlin’, recorded with The Dillards in 1965. Berline now operates the Double Stop Fiddle Shop in Guthrie, OK.
Congratulations guys – and well deserved!
Thanks to Bill Hurtle, who serves on the Board of Directors of the National Fiddler Hall of Fame, for rounding up all these photos from the induction ceremony, taken by Ken Ames.
The National Fiddler Hall of Fame is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization, and operates with a volunteer staff financed by membership fees and donations. Details about joining or donating to the Hall of Fame can be found online.
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