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LIGHT CRUST DOUGHBOYS
by Archie P. McDonald, PhD
ARE ON THE AIR"
Light Crust Doughboys became the most famous, and most successful, western swing
group in Texas in the 1930s, and a derivative of
the group still performs today, although they are no longer "on the air."|
The original Doughboys followed a rough road to success. Bob
Wills moved to Fort Worth
and organized the Wills Fiddle Band in 1929. Despite that auspicious name,
the "band" was just Wills
playing fiddle while Herman Arnsparger accompanied him on guitar until
Milton Brown joined the band as a vocalist the next year.
talked W. Lee O'Daniel, president of Burrus Mill and Elevator Company,
makers of Light Crust Flour in Fort
Worth, to sponsor his band on a local radio show. The groupšs name was changed
to Light Crust Doughboys because Burrus wanted to sell more flour. Shows opened
with, "The Light Crust Doughboys are on the air!" followed by their theme "Listen
everybody, from near and far, if you wanta know who we are. Wešre the Light Crust
Doughboys from Burrus Mill." OšDaniel fired the band two week later, then had
to hire them back when he found out how much the listening public liked the show.
That began an uneasy association between O'Daniel and Wills,
whom he eventually did fire completely, and the remaining Doughboys, until O'Daniel
left the company in 1935.
O'Daniel joined the program for a time as master
of ceremonies. He often read poetry and homilies and attracted a sufficiently
wide following himself to be elected governor in 1938.
Following a final
firing from the group by O'Daniel, Wills
moved to Oklahoma and then to Waco
and organized a new band called the Texas Playboys, which he continued
to lead until his retirement. Eventually Wills
was recognized as the "father" of the musical genre known as "western swing."
When O'Daniel left Burrus and the Doughboys, he developed the Hillbilly
Flour Company and hired a new band called the Hillbilly Boys. Meanwhile,
Burrus continued to sponsor the Light Crust Doughboys on a statewide radio network
each day at noon. The band members changed frequently, but the music of the fiddle
remained their specialty.
A modern version of the Light Crust Doughboys
continues to perform, enabling youngsters to hear an old sound and oldsters to
remember to pass the biscuits to Pappy.
January 25, 2004 column
A syndicated column in over 40 East Texas newspapers
Published with permission
This column is provided as a public service
by the East Texas Historical Association. Archie P. McDonald is director of the
Association and author of more than 20 books on Texas.
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