Fiddle Legend Johnny Gimble Dead at 88
Legendary fiddle player Johnny Gimble has passed away. Nashville's Tennessean newspaper reports the influential Western Swing musician died on Saturday (May 9), just weeks before his 89th birthday.
Born John Paul Gimble in Tyler, Texas on May 30, 1926, Gimble grew up in Bascom, Texas. His biography at Allmusic states he began playing in a trio called the Rose City Swingsters with his brothers at age 12 before moving to Louisiana to play with Jimmie Davis.
He joined Bob Wills' legendary Texas Playboys in the late 1940s, where he helped to pioneer the five-string fiddle. He broke away to form his own band, but re-joined Wills in 1953, where he stayed until the 1960s. During that period, he also played on Marty Robbins' No. 1 hit, "I'll Go on Alone."
After leaving the business entirely for a period, Gimble began recording with Wills again in 1969, and from that point forward he maintained a steady schedule of session work that included recording with Merle Haggard and Chet Atkins, touring with Willie Nelson and releasing a string of solo albums.
In 1983, Gimble formed a Western Swing group that featured Ray Price and scored a country radio hit with "One Fiddle, Two Fiddle," which was featured in the Clint Eastwood movie Honkytonk Man. He was also nominated for a Grammy award for his performance on the 1993 Mark O'Connor album, Heroes. In his later years, he made guest appearances on Austin City Limits. Gimble was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship in 1994.
According to the Tennessean, the iconic fiddler suffered a stroke in 1999, but continued to play well into his 80s, appearing on A Prarie Home Companion and releasing an album titled Celebrating With Friends in 2010, featuring collaborations with Haggard, Vince Gill, Dale Watson, Ray Benson and more.
No cause of death has been reported.
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