In a distinguished career that spanned over 50 years, guitarist and arranger Eldon Shamblin lent his considerable talents to many of country's biggest stars, including a ten-year stint in one of the greatest band's of all time, Bob Wills' Texas Playboys. Joining the band in 1937, the self-taught guitarist quickly became the band's musical arranger, as he had learned to read charts by studying big-band arrangements. A mix of country, swing, and bluegrass, the Texas Playboys' sound defined the popular genre known as western swing and Shamblin's trademark guitar style and musical knowledge were keys to their success. After four years with the Playboys, Shamblin was drafted into the second world war where he served as an infantry captain, actually finding himself missing in action for a time before reconnecting with his unit. The guitarist returned to Wills' band after the war and remained with them until 1954 when he took a near-15-year hiatus.

Shamblin returned to the music world at large in 1970 when he organized a tribute to his legendary bandleader and played on A Tribute to the Best Damn Fiddle Player in the World, an album recorded by Merle Haggard. Shamblin later joined another first-rate group when he accepted an invitation to become a member of the Strangers, Haggard's famed backup band. Studio sessions for various artists followed before Shamblin eventually returned to a second incarnation of the Texas Playboys in the early '80s. In addition to recording and playing, Shamblin also taught guitar at Rogers State College as well, making sure his trademark single-string melodies and chord flourishes live on long after he does. The guitarist died in 1998. ~ Steve Kurutz, Rovi

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