Jesse Ashlock

This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll resin up the bow with one of Western swing’s jazziest fiddlers.

Jesse Ashlock was born on February 22, 1915, in Walker County, Texas. As a teenager, Ashlock attended dances at Fort Worth’s Crystal Springs Dance Pavilion, where he saw Western swing pioneer, Bob Wills, perform. In 1935, Ashlock joined Wills’s band and would play fiddle with the Texas Playboys for the next four decades. Strongly influenced by jazz violinist, Joe Venuti, Jesse Ashlock’s hot fiddle solos helped set the standard for virtually all western swing fiddlers who followed.

In 1975, Jesse Ashlock settled in Austin, where he mentored a new generation of Western swing musicians, including Asleep at the Wheel and Alvin Crow. On August 6, 1976, Ashlock gave his last live performance at Austin’s Broken Spoke dance hall. He died only three days later.

Next time on This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll recall when a superstar illuminated the Astrodome.

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