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 Robert D Skiles, Sr

Robert D Skiles, Sr

Death 4 Dec 1993 (aged 78)
Burial San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas, USA
Plot V, 0, 39-A
Memorial ID 1185170 · View Source
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Robert "Dude" Skiles was a nationally known jazz musician who traveled around the country entertaining people nearly 50 years.
Skiles, 78, died Saturday.

Born on Oct. 27, 1915, Skiles began playing the drums with his parents when he was 5. His parents, Bob and Nellie Skiles, put him behind a drum set and billed him as the youngest drummer in the world.

The Skiles family played - and usually won - amateur contests, and the family was eventually barred from the contests.

"I'd always win. I was a little bitty kid, and I'd bang the hell out of drums. I didn't know what I was doing, but I think I was keeping time," Skiles said in a 1983 interview with the San Antonio Express-News.

When Skiles was 7, he traveled with his parents in the Dubinsky Brothers Tent Shows throughout the Southwest. His parents fell in love with San Antonio when the show passed through the Alamo City, and they later moved here.

The Skiles family formed a band and called themselves Bob Skiles and his Haywire Orchestra. The family group played on WOAI radio and for the now-defunct Liberty Mills Flour Co.

In 1930, Skiles' father bought him a second-hand King trumpet and taught him the fingering to "Darktown Strutter's Ball," which he played at each performance.

His greatest influences were his band teacher at Jefferson High School, Otto Zoeller, and Louis Armstrong.
In 1934, the band moved to Mineral Wells, where it played for a local radio station.

In 1937, Skiles and his brother Jack, a well-known jazz guitarist, moved to Los Angeles and joined Fred Waring's Pennsylvanians.
The brothers traveled with Waring's band until Dude was fired the next year.

"He wouldn't let anyone be themselves. And I couldn't play the same chorus twice. I stood up and played what I felt. I didn't like his domination," Skiles said in the Express-News interview.

Skiles later joined Johnny Green's orchestra on the Phillip Morris Show, and played with trumpet players Peewee Erwin and Charlie Teagarden, brother of trombonist Jack Teagarden.

He formed the Band of the West during a stint in the Army Air Corps in World War II.

Skiles married Hortense Buchanan in 1939. Shortly afterward, he was hired to manage the Shadow Land Night Club on Blanco Road.
He also was manager of the Municipal Auditorium from 1950 to 1952. Skiles later married Inez Weatherly.

After World War II, he opened Dude Skiles Record Shop on Fredericksburg Road. He rejoined Fred Waring's band in the 1960s, and eventually moved back to San Antonio, where he played with various bands.

"He was one of the greatest artists that the city ever produced," said Jim Cullum, a prominent San Antonio jazz musician. "In his prime, there was nobody who played trumpet better than Dude Skiles.

"He was absolutely phenomenal. He was quite a technician. His really great talent was as an improviser and a swinger."
In 1980 he suffered a stroke and lost the use of his left hand. Skiles recovered slowly, but held the trumpet and depressed the valves with his right hand.

Services are to be at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in St. Paul's Catholic Church. The burial will be private.




  • Imported from: US Veteran's Affairs
  • Added: 26 Feb 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 1185170
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Robert D Skiles, Sr (27 Oct 1915–4 Dec 1993), Find A Grave Memorial no. 1185170, citing Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas, USA ; Maintained by US Veterans Affairs Office (contributor 5) .