Luke Wills

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b. Luther J. Wills, 10 September 1920, on a farm near Memphis, Hall County, Texas, USA, d. 21 October 2000, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Younger brother of Bob Wills and the seventh of the Wills family’s…
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b. Luther J. Wills, 10 September 1920, on a farm near Memphis, Hall County, Texas, USA, d. 21 October 2000, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Younger brother of Bob Wills and the seventh of the Wills family’s children. He was rated so differently from the rest of the family that it became a family joke that his mother had picked up the wrong baby, after one of the many social dances held in the area. He learned to play stand-up bass as a child and made his musical debut in 1939 in the second Wills band, led by elder brother Johnnie Lee Wills, called the Rhythmaires. He appeared in B-movie westerns in the early 40s with Bob but in 1943, he joined the US Navy. After service, he led Bob’s second band and covered the dance circuit of northern and central California, appearing first as Luke Wills And The Texas Playboys Number 2, but to avoid confusion this soon became Luke Wills’ Rhythm Busters. He recorded for King Records and RCA - Victor Records, adopting a similar style of comments and interjections as Bob, though not in a high-pitched voice.

In 1948, the Rhythm Busters were disbanded and he worked with Bob until 1950, when he re-formed his own band and took over in Oklahoma City, when Bob returned to Texas to his new dancehall. He rejoined Bob in 1952 and played and sang with the Playboys, often fronting the band in Bob’s absence, until they disbanded in 1964. He then worked outside of the music industry in Las Vegas. In 1971, he played bass on the Bob Wills tribute recordings made at Merle Haggard’s home in Bakersfield and later made some appearances at Playboy Reunion Shows, but did not appear on the 1973 recording session in Dallas. Although contributing in no small way to his eldest brother’s legend, he was not elected to the Country Music Hall Of Fame. In the late 70s, he left the music business and retired to Las Vegas.