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Chuck Guillory

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Cajun fiddler Chuck Guillory was born August 16, 1919 in Mamou, Louisiana; as a child, he regularly performed alongside his father, playing fiddle duets at a local bar each Saturday afternoon. After appearing at his first country dance at age eight, two years later Guillory formed his first band, and was a popular local attraction throughout the pre-war era. After World War II, he made his first recordings alongside accordionist Milton Molitor, subsequently forming the popular Cajun band the Rhythm Boys; among its early members was a young singer from Beaumont, Texas named George Jones. Later featuring guitarist Jimmy Newman and steel player Julius "Papa Cairo" Lamperez, the group cut their earliest sides in 1949, among them a Papa Cairo original titled "Just Wait and See," which its author later claimed was the uncredited basis for one-time Rhythm Boy Marty Robbins' "Pretty Words." Guillory & the Rhythm Boys scored their first regional hit around 1950 with "Big Texas"; as the track featured Papa Cairo handling vocal duties, he soon formed his own group to record a new rendition of the track under his own name. Guillory forged on for a number of years before retiring from the dancehall circuit in 1958 to run a grocery store; he continued playing the occasional party, however, and years later performed at a gathering recorded by folklorist Dr. Henry Oster. That evening's version of "Grand Texas" was released on the LP Folksongs of the Louisiana Acadians, becoming an underground hit. In the late '80s, Guillory also re-formed the Rhythm Boys to play dances and record for the Arhoolie label, with his 1987 sessions for the company later collected on the 1998 release Grand Texas. ~ Jason Ankeny

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16 August 1919

Years Active:

'40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s