Benny Thomasson

The National Fiddler Hall of Fame



Benny Thomasson

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Benny Thomasson

Born in 1909, Texan Benny Thomasson is said to be one of the greatest musicians and contest fiddlers of all time. Benny was one of ten children and playing music was an important part of the family's lifestyle. Benny started playing the fiddle at the age of three - just as soon as he could hold it. By the mid 1920's, Benny was participating in fiddle contests, playing in his first one at the age of 14. Benny decided early on that he wanted to develop a contest strategy that would make him stand out from the rest of the competitors - a strategy that utilized innovative playing techniques and just slightly different interpretations of popular tunes. The strategy worked. Benny Thomasson won the Texas State Championship 15 times, the World Championships 3 years in a row, and the National Old-time Fiddler's Championship at Weiser, Idaho in 1974.

Thomasson was instrumental in helping develop the "Texas Style" of fiddling that is played so frequently today. By being one of the first to take the style to contests outside Texas, he is also also credited with bringing that style to new audiences throughout the country.

Benny was very beloved by other fiddlers and fellow competitors as well, a stamp of approval from Benny Thomasson could always help a young fiddler break into the inner circle, opening up a world of opportunity - to compete, play and learn from the best. Benny was well known in the fiddling community for his kindness, and his generosity as a teacher and mentor. After retiring in the early 1970's, Benny and his wife Bea moved to Washington state where Benny would eventually become teacher and mentor to a young Mark O'Connor.

Benny passed away in 1983, at the age of 75. But his legacy continues to live on in the style he helped create, in the music he made, in the contests he helped shape, in the students he mentored, and in the musicians he inspired.

Benny Thomasson was inducted into the National Fiddler Hall of Fame in 2013.