Curly Lewis

The National Fiddler Hall of Fame



Curly Lewis

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Curly Lewis

Curly Lewis was born on a farm in Stiglar Oklahoma, in 1924, where he was the fifth child in a family of nine. The family was musically inclined and Curly learned to play many instruments while growing up, including the fiddle, guitar, mandolin, bass and tenor banjo. Curly was only eleven years old when his older brother Pres secretly signed him up for his first fiddle contest in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The contest was sponsored by Bob Wills and brought in over 67 fiddlers of all ages from seven states. It lasted three nights and Curly competed in a blue serge suit. Curly went on to win that contest and the $100 prize that went with it.

Around the age of 19, Curly traveled to Tulsa to pursue a career in music. Six months later he joined the Johnnie Lee Wills band where he initially played rhythm guitar, but eventually switched to fiddle. For almost eleven years, Curly's style and vocals would become an essential part of Johnnie Lee's sound. Curly also went on to play for a short time with Bob Wills in California, for four years with Leon McAulliffe's Cimarron Boys and for over ten with Hank Thompson. An integral part of these bands for so many years, Curly's influence is undeniable and he is often credited with "forever shaping the sounds of western swing."

Curly Lewis was inducted into the National Fiddler Hall of Fame in 2013.