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Tiny Moore & Jethro Burns

Best known for his work in Bob Wills' Texas Playboys, Tiny Moore earned a reputation as one of the greatest mandolin players of all time. He was born Billie Moore in Hamilton County, TX, in 1920 and learned to play not only the mandolin, but also fiddle, banjo, and drums. Earning his nickname due to his large frame, his first professional job in music was with the Port Arthur Jubileers. He joined Wills' band in 1946, playing on classic sides like "Three Guitar Rag" and "Bubbles in My Beer." Tired of touring, he spent some time running Bob's Wills Point Ballroom in Sacramento, where he also played in brother Billy Jack Wills' early-'50s band and from 1956-1962 hosted a local children's TV show. Also during the '50s, Moore developed an electric five-string mandolin that helped bring the instrument into country's amplified age as well as proved its viability in jazz combos. Moore later spent 13 years in Merle Haggard's backing band, the Strangers, and recorded two jazzy albums of his own for Kaleidoscope Records: Back to Back (an album of collaborations with fellow mandolin virtuoso Jethro Burns) and Tiny Moore Music. On December 15, 1987, he suffered a fatal heart attack while performing in Jackpot, NV.
© Steve Huey /TiVo
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