Wootten started his career playing country & western, moved to big band jazz, then back to country and won an Academy of Country Music Award as Best Bassist in 1982. While still in his teens, Wootten landed a six-dollar-a-week gig on Archie "Grandpappy" Campbell's C&W show on radio station WDOD in Chattanooga, TN; the band included future Sons of the Pioneers guitarist Roy Lanham. Texas crooner Gene Austin hired the band and dubbed them the Whippoorwills. Wootten toured with Austin for a time, then quit the band due to exhaustion. Wootten went on to play with several successful big bands of the '40s, including those led by Jan Savitt and Tony Pastor. Beginning in 1949, he played with a succession of prominent swing bandleaders, including Tommy Dorsey, Woody Herman, and Charlie Barnet. In 1957, he recorded with Harry Babasin's Jazzpickers in a rhythm section that also included Red Norvo. He hooked up with Norvo and recorded and toured with the vibist in 1957-1958. Wootten recorded The Most Exciting Guitar with Lanham in 1959. That year, Wootten also toured with Benny Goodman and Frank Sinatra. With Sinatra, Wootten did movies, TV, and worked the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas. In the '60s and '70s, Wootten worked mostly in the studios; he also composed and arranged for film and authored a book of musical exercises for bass instruments. In addition to the aforementioned, Wootten played with Merle Travis, Glen Campbell, Eddie Dean, Mary Ford, Tex Williams, Jimmy Bryant, Joe Maphis, and Roy Rogers, among many others. He also worked on Gene Autry's Melody Ranch radio show.
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