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Luther J. "Luke" Wills
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Birth: Sep. 10, 1920
Hall County
Texas, USA
Death: Oct. 21, 2000
Las Vegas
Clark County
Nevada, USA

Luther J. "Luke" Wills was born Sept. 10, 1920, on a farm near Memphis, Hall County, Texas. Luke was the younger brother of Bob Wills and the seventh of the Wills' family children. Like his brother Johnnie Lee, Luke learned to play tenor banjo and made his musical debut in 1937 when he was 17, doing his first show with Bob's band in Cain's Academy in Tulsa. Luke then continued his career, now as a bass player in the second Wills' band, led by elder brother Johnnie Lee Wills, called the Rhythmaires. In the early 1940's, when Bob left for Hollywood to make western movies, he took Luke and several other Texas Playboys with him. Together, they made several theatrical shorts and features while Johnnie Lee took over the Cain's broadcasts and dances. In 1943, Luke joined the US Navy during WW II. After service, he led Bob's second band and covered the dance circuit of northern and central California, appearing first as Luke Wills And the Texas Playboys Number 2 but to avoid confusion this soon became Luke Wills' Rhythm Busters. He recorded for King and RCA-Victor in the late 1940's, adopting a similar style of comments and interjections as Bob though not in a high pitched voice. In 1948, the Rhythm Busters were disbanded and he worked with Bob until 1950, when he reformed his own band and took over in Oklahoma City for a standing job at the Trianon Ballroom, when Bob returned to Texas to his new dancehall. He rejoined Bob in 1952 and played and sang with the Playboys, often fronting the band in Bob's absence, until they disbanded in 1964. He then worked outside of the music industry in Las Vegas, as among other things, as a casino security guard. Some of Luke's better-known vocals during his career include "Little Star Of Heaven" "Old Shep" and "Will You Miss Me When I'm Gone." In 1971, he played bass on the Bob Wills' tribute recordings made at Merle Haggard's home in Bakersfield and later made some appearances at Playboy Reunion Shows but did not appear on the 1973 recording session in Dallas. Although contributing in no small way to his eldest brother's legend, he was not elected to the Country Music Hall Of Fame. In the late '70s, he left the music business and retired to Las Vegas where he was a resident for 35 years. In 1988, Bear Family Records of Germany released a collection of his RCA Victor recordings entitled "High Voltage Gal." In the 1990's, despite a stroke that rendered him unable to play bass, he was a regular member of the Bob Wills tribute bands around the country. Luther J. Wills was a musician in the entertainment industry, a member of American Legion Post 8, Screen Actors Guild and Western Swing Music Association. Luke and his wife Dorothy were married in March 1939 in Tulsa, and had two sons and one daughter, 11 grandchildren, and 18 great-grandchildren. Luther J. "Luke" Wills, 80, died on Oct. 21, 2000 in Las Vegas following a massive stroke. Luke was the last surviving Wills brother. He is buried at Palm Valley View Memorial Park in Las Vegas, NV.
Family links: 
  John Tompkins Wills (1880 - 1952)
  Emma Foley Wills (1886 - 1972)
  Dorothy Boren Wills (1921 - 2004)
  John David Wills (1948 - 1998)*
  James Robert Wills (1905 - 1975)*
  Ruby Wills Sullivan (1908 - 1984)*
  Eloise Wills House (1910 - 1979)*
  Johnnie Lee Wills (1912 - 1984)*
  Olga L. Wills Kerr (1916 - 2001)*
  Helen F Wills McKee (1917 - 1969)*
  Luther J. Wills (1920 - 2000)
  Lorene M Wills (1923 - 2011)*
  Billy Jack Wills (1926 - 1991)*
*Calculated relationship
Palm Memorial Park
Las Vegas
Clark County
Nevada, USA
Plot: Reflection, Space 50, Row C
Created by: Carole Elbert
Record added: Apr 11, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 68243283
Luther J. Luke Wills
Added by: Lettie Kirby
Luther J. Luke Wills
Added by: Carole Elbert
Luther J. Luke Wills
Added by: Bob
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