Johnny Gimble – Greatest Western Swing Band of All Time
Austin has traditionally been home to many treasured musicians and Johnny Gimble can be numbered among them. Gimble, who is now in his 80′s, was regularly featured in the greatest western swing band of all time–Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, beginning in the late 1940s. He was a highly sought after Nashville session man in the mid 1960s and toured with Willie Nelson in the 1970s.
During the mid 1960s, Johnny actually left the music scene for a short while, but quickly returned. Johnny has appeared on Austin City Limits numerous times and has been seen with Asleep at the Wheel. Gimble’s fiddle playing can also be heard on “A Prairie Home Companion,” Garrison Keillor’s popular NPR television show. Keillor was amazed that while Johnny could magnificently play tunes like the simple country standard “Darling Nelly,” he could also tackle compositions by Stephane Grappelli–and play them flawlessly. Furthermore, Johnny’s violin playing has been admired and by top country musicians like Ray Benson, Merle Haggard, and Vince Gill for over 60 years.
Almost all of George Strait’s albums feature Johnny on violin and/or mandolin and he has appeared with Dolly Parton. Johnny has done 10 solo albums and he has won numerous awards from both the Country Music Awards and the Academy of Country Music.
Johnny loves to play what he calls and what was deemed “hokum” in the 1940s– better known as western swing. His most recent band, called Johnny Gimble and Western Swing was last seen in Austin and a CD may be forthcoming. Johnny was most recently honored at the annual Texas Swing Festival in May of 2011.
Although a stroke in 1999 slowed Johnny Gimble down, he still continues to play both the violin and mandolin and is revered by country, jazz and roots music aficionados worldwide.