Bobby Bruce

The National Fiddler Hall of Fame



Bobby Bruce


YouTube (Link)

Bobby Bruce grew up in Chicago, Illinois in the early 1920’s. He was classically trained on the violin at a young age. In his early years his family performed on a vaudeville stage tap dancing, acrobatics, fiddling, piano, singing and telling funny stories. This experience exposed him to many genres of music, but jazz was his favorite and Stuff Smith was his idol. At 16 years old Bruce got a jazz band together. He lied about his age to play music in Chicago nightclubs making good money to supplement the family income during the Depression years. With his amazing talent on the violin he earned a scholarship to Chicago Music College. There he studied with master teachers learning technique, theory, writing and orchestrating. During WWII Bruce enlisted in the marines (being drafting age) and took his fiddle to the South Pacific. His love for the fiddle was contagious and the joy he received for entertaining continued to grow.

Bobby’s music career began to take off. In the 1950’s he first played with Luke Wills and His Rhythm Busters in Fresno, California. They played on a daily radio show, common in those days. A year later Bobby received a call from Leon McAuliffe who having left the Texas Playboys had his own exceptional jazz band in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Bobby was the chief arranger while in Leon McAuliffe’s band. Not all of the band members read music, though no doubt they were all magnificent musicians. Bobby found ways to write for them all. After five years Bobby yearned to have his children grow up with their grandparents so returned to California and played for Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys and later with Tex Williams and Spade Cooley’s Band.

In the 1960’s Bobby’s prolific fiddling launched his career to prominent television shows including: The Lawrence Welk Show, Barbara Mandrel Show, Green Acres, Bewitched, Little House on the Prairie and Highway to Heaven to name a few. He also wrote and played music for radio and television commercials.

Bobby’s talent brought him to the Hollywood movie scene as well. Henry Mancini called Bobby to perform Wild Fiddle in “Oklahoma Crude”. Bobby worked with Quincy Jones arranging and playing the music in the movie “Roots” which both Quincy and Bobby won Oscars. Bobby’s creative musicianship was much appreciated in the movie “Funny Girl which had three different flavors of music in various eras. The 1914 for WWI, the 1920’s the flapper times and the 1940’s for WWII the western swing (in which Bobby called the swing era of jazz). In the movie Jeremiah Johnson the main character was a mountain man primitive and rough. They did not want anything sophisticated in the fiddling music. Bobby was a master fiddler in all styles of music.Bobby has recorded with Bob Wills, Willie Nelson and Buddy Spicher just to name a few.

Bobby Bruce lives in Los Angeles, California.

Bobby Bruce was inducted into the National Fiddler Hall of Fame in 2014.