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Bass Player for Texas Playboys Swing Band Dies At 75

August 9, 1989

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) _ T.C. ″Son″ Lansford, bass player for the Western swing group Texas Playboys, has died. He was 75.

Lansford, who died Monday in a Fort Worth hospital, was one of the first musicians to use an electric bass guitar.

Joe Ferguson, one of the original members of the 1930s Texas Playboys, said Wednesday that Lansford’s death leaves Smokey Dacus, June Whelan, Eldon Shamblin and himself as the only surviving original members.

″He was the first slap bass player I had ever seen and he could slap the devil out of that thing,″ Ferguson said. ″We were chop bass players. We didn’t have much finesse, we just tried to keep the rhythm the way Bob Wills wanted it.′

Lansford’s sons told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he picked up a fiddle when he was 10 years old and played a tune.

Lansford joined Wills, his cousin, after the older musician had left the Light Crust Doughboys and gone to Tulsa in 1934 and formed his Texas Playboys. To join the band, Lansford had to hop a freight train to get to Fort Worth, then rode with Wills’ parents to Tulsa.

Lansford gave up the fiddle and began playing bass because Wills already handled the fiddling. Within two years of making the switch, he was voted by Variety magazine as one of the top two bass players in the United States, the newspaper said.

After marrying in 1936, Lansford left the Playboys and formed a band in Amarillo called The Flying Dutchmen. But after a couple years, the band broke up and Lansford rejoined the Playboys.

Lansford appeared in three movies with the Playboys. He also was a part- time barnstorming pilot and stunt flier. During World War II, he trained Royal Air Force pilots and some Army pilots in Oklahoma after unsuccessfully trying to join the Army Air Corps.

Lansford had lived in Fort Worth since about 1951, the Star-Telegram said. He occasionally performed, but less frequently in recent years because of arthritis in his hands.

He is survived by two daughters, one son, 10 grandchildren, 14 great- grandchildren.

Services will be Saturday in Colleyville.

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