Play Video
1
It Make
It Make's No Difference Now,Tommy Duncan
::2007/01/24::
Play Video
2
Tommy Duncan - Beneath A Neon Star In A Honky Tonk
Tommy Duncan - Beneath A Neon Star In A Honky Tonk
::2011/04/12::
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3
Tommy Duncan   Roly Poly
Tommy Duncan Roly Poly
::2013/12/29::
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4
Tommy Duncan - sings Gambling Polka Dot Blues & Miss. River Blues
Tommy Duncan - sings Gambling Polka Dot Blues & Miss. River Blues
::2013/10/20::
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5
Bob Wills & Tommy Duncan Interview KGER - Oct. 1960
Bob Wills & Tommy Duncan Interview KGER - Oct. 1960
::2013/11/08::
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6
NEVER NO MO
NEVER NO MO' BLUES by Tommy Duncan 1949
::2009/06/12::
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7
Bob Wills - Home In San Antone - vocal Tommy Duncan - Oct 1944
Bob Wills - Home In San Antone - vocal Tommy Duncan - Oct 1944
::2009/07/24::
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8
Goodbye Liza Jane - Bob Wills with Tommy Duncan vocal.wmv
Goodbye Liza Jane - Bob Wills with Tommy Duncan vocal.wmv
::2010/09/16::
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9
Bob Wills & Tommy Duncan - 2 Rare versions of  I Wonder If You Feel the Way I Do
Bob Wills & Tommy Duncan - 2 Rare versions of I Wonder If You Feel the Way I Do
::2013/10/11::
Play Video
10
Smiley Burnette and Tommy Duncan - Ever Lovin
Smiley Burnette and Tommy Duncan - Ever Lovin' Marshall
::2010/06/25::
Play Video
11
Bob Wills Time Changes Everything
Bob Wills Time Changes Everything
::2009/07/26::
Play Video
12
Tommy Duncan   Ida Red
Tommy Duncan Ida Red
::2009/08/16::
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13
Bob Wills & Tommy Duncan duets
Bob Wills & Tommy Duncan duets
::2013/07/07::
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14
Tommy Duncan. Dance, Dance, Dance..
Tommy Duncan. Dance, Dance, Dance..
::2011/11/07::
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15
Bob Wills Plays & Tommy Duncan yodels country blues
Bob Wills Plays & Tommy Duncan yodels country blues
::2013/09/14::
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16
Tommy Duncan - Nancy Jane
Tommy Duncan - Nancy Jane
::2014/06/04::
Play Video
17
Ole Rasmussen & Tommy Duncan - Stay A Little Longer
Ole Rasmussen & Tommy Duncan - Stay A Little Longer
::2009/08/12::
Play Video
18
Tommy Duncan - Daddy Loves Mommyo - Rockabilly 45
Tommy Duncan - Daddy Loves Mommyo - Rockabilly 45
::2012/11/28::
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19
Dance Dance Dance - Tommy Duncan
Dance Dance Dance - Tommy Duncan
::2010/02/26::
Play Video
20
Billy Mata & The Texas Tradition - This Is Tommy Duncan, Vol. 2 (2011) - Album Sampler
Billy Mata & The Texas Tradition - This Is Tommy Duncan, Vol. 2 (2011) - Album Sampler
::2013/12/23::
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21
Tommy Duncan-Who Drank My Beer (While I was in The Rear)
Tommy Duncan-Who Drank My Beer (While I was in The Rear)
::2012/04/03::
Play Video
22
Bob Wills  Tommy Duncan tribute ...Goodbye Liza Jane with Herb Remington
Bob Wills Tommy Duncan tribute ...Goodbye Liza Jane with Herb Remington
::2011/01/03::
Play Video
23
Tommy Duncan - Tomato Can
Tommy Duncan - Tomato Can
::2012/11/28::
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24
Johnny G Lyon & JGLB featuring Tommy Duncan
Johnny G Lyon & JGLB featuring Tommy Duncan
::2008/12/15::
Play Video
25
TOMMY DUNCAN There
TOMMY DUNCAN There's Is No A Cow In Texas INTRO 1951
::2014/04/08::
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26
Tommy Duncan - Let Me Take You Out
Tommy Duncan - Let Me Take You Out
::2009/07/24::
Play Video
27
Tommy Duncan   Roly Poly
Tommy Duncan Roly Poly
::2009/04/28::
Play Video
28
Tommy Duncan - Texas Moon
Tommy Duncan - Texas Moon
::2014/06/20::
Play Video
29
Nancy Jane  Tommy Duncan   Intro 78RPM 6054
Nancy Jane Tommy Duncan Intro 78RPM 6054
::2014/01/02::
Play Video
30
Somebody
Somebody's Pushin' Tommy Duncan
::2014/05/15::
Play Video
31
Who Drank The Beer Tommy Duncan
Who Drank The Beer Tommy Duncan
::2013/08/29::
Play Video
32
EMPTY BED BLUES by Bob Wills v-Tommy Duncan 1938
EMPTY BED BLUES by Bob Wills v-Tommy Duncan 1938
::2009/06/12::
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33
Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys, vocal Tommy Duncan, "A Sweet Kind of Love" on Columbia 37988
Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys, vocal Tommy Duncan, "A Sweet Kind of Love" on Columbia 37988
::2014/07/19::
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34
Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys (Tommy Duncan). New San Antonio Rose (Okeh 5694, 1940)
Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys (Tommy Duncan). New San Antonio Rose (Okeh 5694, 1940)
::2014/02/27::
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35
Bob Wills with Tommy Duncan - A Good Man Is Hard To Find & I Had Someone Else Before I Had You.
Bob Wills with Tommy Duncan - A Good Man Is Hard To Find & I Had Someone Else Before I Had You.
::2014/01/06::
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36
tommy duncan - let me take you out
tommy duncan - let me take you out
::2014/05/02::
Play Video
37
Tommy Duncan - Nancy Jane
Tommy Duncan - Nancy Jane
::2009/12/17::
Play Video
38
MEAN MAMA BLUES by Bob Wills v Tommy Duncan 1936
MEAN MAMA BLUES by Bob Wills v Tommy Duncan 1936
::2009/06/12::
Play Video
39
Tommy Duncan Too much time
Tommy Duncan Too much time
::2013/11/26::
Play Video
40
CHATTANOOGIE SHOE SHINE BOY by Tommy Duncan 1949
CHATTANOOGIE SHOE SHINE BOY by Tommy Duncan 1949
::2009/06/12::
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41
Tommy Duncan-I Don
Tommy Duncan-I Don't Want To Hurt You
::2012/04/03::
Play Video
42
Tommy Duncan   It Makes No Difference Now
Tommy Duncan It Makes No Difference Now
::2013/12/29::
Play Video
43
Away Out There Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys with Tommy Duncan with Lyrics
Away Out There Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys with Tommy Duncan with Lyrics
::2013/06/25::
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44
Tommy Duncan & Group- Darling.avi
Tommy Duncan & Group- Darling.avi
::2011/12/31::
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45
Bob Wills and Tommy Duncan After All 45 rpm
Bob Wills and Tommy Duncan After All 45 rpm
::2011/03/06::
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46
Mustang Sally performed by Johnny G Lyon/ JGLB/ Tommy Duncan
Mustang Sally performed by Johnny G Lyon/ JGLB/ Tommy Duncan
::2008/04/23::
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47
Twist + Shout performed by JGLB/Johnny G Lyon/Tommy Duncan
Twist + Shout performed by JGLB/Johnny G Lyon/Tommy Duncan
::2008/04/23::
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48
Tommy Duncan - Saturday Night in San Antone
Tommy Duncan - Saturday Night in San Antone
::2010/06/25::
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49
Bob Wills "Bring It On Down To My House" Tommy Duncan singer (sounds like "Keep on Truckin
Bob Wills "Bring It On Down To My House" Tommy Duncan singer (sounds like "Keep on Truckin'")
::2014/07/22::
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50
DADDY LOVES MOMMYO - TOMMY DUNCAN WITH BILL WOODS ORCHESTER.
DADDY LOVES MOMMYO - TOMMY DUNCAN WITH BILL WOODS ORCHESTER.
::2013/01/12::
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Tommy Duncan
Tommy Duncan.jpg
Background information
Birth name Thomas Elmer Duncan
Born (1911-01-11)January 11, 1911
Origin Hillsboro, Texas
Died July 25, 1967(1967-07-25) (aged 56)
Genres Western swing
Occupations Singer-songwriter
Years active 1930s-1960s
Labels Capitol
Associated acts Bob Wills

Thomas Elmer Duncan (January 11, 1911–July 25, 1967), better known as Tommy Duncan, was a pioneering American Western swing vocalist and songwriter who gained fame in the 1930s as a founding member of The Texas Playboys. He recorded and toured with bandleader Bob Wills on and off into the early 1960s.

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Duncan was born near Whitney, Texas on a large farm into a large and impoverished family of truck farmers. He was one of 14 children. His most profound influences as a young singer were Jimmie Rodgers, Bing Crosby, Emmett Miller and other country and blues musicians. He left home at 13 to sharecrop on a cousin's farm, and by 1932 was surviving as a busker in Fort Worth singing at a root beer stand. That year he won an audition against 64 other singers to join the Light Crust Doughboys, a popular local band which featured Bob Wills on fiddle. Another man had auditioned who sounded almost exactly like Duncan but was turned down because of his crossed eyes. Duncan was hired after he sang a version of Emmett Miller's "I Ain't Got Nobody" and impressed Wills with his yodeling ability and bluesy phrasing. As was common at the time, the Doughboys appeared on a radio show under the sponsorship of a local business, in their case Light Crust Flour. Duncan quickly became a sensation, both on the show and at dances and other appearances.

Bob Wills and The Texas Playboys[edit]

When bandleader Wills decided to form an independent band, he and Duncan became the creative core of The Texas Playboys. Duncan was versatile in his singing style and repertoire, was credited with a fine voice and range, and was ideal for the kind of dance music Wills performed and recorded. He sang everything from ballads and folk to pop, Tin Pan Alley, Broadway and cowboy songs.

As a lyricist, he contributed to "New San Antonio Rose" (1940); the recording, with Duncan on vocals, sold three million copies for Columbia Records. Duncan married, but after only a few years his wife developed cancer and died. Ironically, Duncan's first royalty check for "Time Changes Everything" was used to cover her funeral expenses.

Duncan soon set the standard for Western swing vocals. In California he became friends with Bing Crosby when they stabled their horses together. A virtual "human jukebox," Duncan memorized the lyrics and melodies to more than 3,000 songs. He was a master stylist with the ability to make each song sound as though he wrote it. Duncan was also a multi-instrumentalist who could play piano, guitar and bass.

After a decade of musical success, Duncan was the first member of Wills's band to volunteer for the armed services after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. His service lasted less than a year when he received a medical discharge and he rejoined Wills in 1944 as the war neared its end.

He appeared with Wills and the other Playboys in several movies, including Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys (1944), Rhythm Roundup (1945), Blazing the Western Trail (1945), Lawless Empire (1945) and Frontier Frolic (1946). His voice matured in the middle to late 1940s. Duncan joined Wills in writing several more numbers, including "New Spanish Two Step" (1945), "Stay A Little Longer" (1945), "Cotton-Eyed Joe" (1946) and "Sally Goodin" (1947). One night in a bar visiting with songwriter Cindy Walker, Duncan motioned for her to look at a gentleman sitting just a few tables away who was staring at his glass of beer. Duncan commented to her that he's just "watchin' the bubbles in his beer."[citation needed] Instantly they both realized they had a song idea and "Bubbles in My Beer" became one of the staples of Western swing songs. Aside from "Faded Love", sung by Rusty McDonald, every Texas Playboys record that was a hit featured Duncan on vocals, cementing his status as the finest vocalist Wills had.

Rumors about Duncan having been a heavy drinker were false; Duncan would only have a drink or two at social events and his brother Glynn stated that otherwise he never saw Duncan drink even while they lived together in Fresno, California. Many band members considered him a troublemaker, but the accusations may have stemmed from professional jealousy. Duncan was admired by contemporaries including Tex Ritter, Tex Williams, Teddy Wilds, Hank Penny and Ole Rasmussen.

Later career[edit]

By 1948, Wills' drinking was becoming too out of control for Duncan. Wills often missed shows, and when the headliner failed to appear, the band's pay reverted to union scale. After a string of performances in 1948 without Wills, Wills overheard Duncan complaining one night before a performance. Wills told guitarist Eldon Shamblin to "fire" Duncan, who set out to form his own band.

He organized another Western swing band called Tommy Duncan and His Western All Stars featuring his younger brother Glynn (1921-2013), a Western swing pioneer, on bass (who would later become Wills' lead vocalist in the late 1950s). Another brother, Joe Duncan, was the lead vocalist for Johnnie Lee Wills' band for a period of time. At the height of the band's popularity, Duncan and the band made an appearance in the 1949 Western film, South of Death Valley, starring Charles Starrett and Smiley Burnette. Musical tastes were changing, however, and attendance at the Western All Stars' dances ranged from fair to poor, certainly not enough to sustain a large band, which lasted less than two years.

From 1959 to 1961, Duncan again toured and recorded with Wills, rekindling much of their former success. By this time Duncan's voice had evolved to a mature mellow croon and he used it to the greatest effect. But when Wills began drinking, he again left and made personal appearances with various bands. Wills' band never achieved the same greatness it had with Duncan, and Duncan's solo efforts mostly paled in comparison to his Wills output. Although known for Western swing, Duncan enjoyed singing country hits of the day.

Death[edit]

Duncan, who had previous heart problems, died in his motel room in San Diego, California after a performance at Imperial Beach on July 24, 1967. The coroner's report said he was "lying...on the floor...Evidence victim had a heart condition, numerous pills for heart were found among personal effects." He is buried near Merced, California.

Legacy[edit]

Duncan's reputation was that of a unique and distinctive talent, a hillbilly Bing Crosby who never compromised his style to be more popular or commercial. On his own and with Wills, he was an influence on such artists as Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ray Price, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Roy Orbison, Merle Haggard, Buddy Holly, Red Steagall, George Strait, Clint Black, Randy Travis, and Garth Brooks.

As a member of The Texas Playboys, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as an Early Influence in 1999, and was also inducted into the Texas Music Hall of Fame. Texas singer Billy Mata has released the Volumes I and II of a planned trilogy of tunes a tribute to Duncan entitled This Is Tommy Duncan. Glynn Duncan and his adopted grandson Erik are among thousands of people who consider Duncan one of the most versatile vocalists of the 20th century. To get the best feel for Duncan's versatility, check out the "Tiffany Transcription" recordings.

Singles[edit]

Year Single US Country
1949 "Gamblin' Polka Dot Blues" 8

External links[edit]

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