SKF Interview: Smokey Dacus: Pioneer of Western Swing Drumming

Scott K Fish

Silver Member
SKF NOTE: I just posted on Life Beyond the Cymbals my feature interview with the first person to play drums in a country band: William "Smokey" Dacus. This interview has never been published. Here's the introduction with a link to the full interview.

Smokey Dacus: Pioneer of Western Swing Drumming
by Scott K Fish


This unpublished phone interview with William "Smokey" Dacus has been on my mind for 35 years. In my view, it deserves publishing. It should be available to music historians and drum historians -- especially, but not exclusively, to country music historians.

Smokey Dacus was the first drummer to play in a country band. Legendary bandleader Bob Wills had the idea, in Smokey's words, to add oomph to Wills's fiddle band. "So he hired me," says Smokey.

Smokey went from working in bands and orchestras where everything he played was written, to Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys where nothing was written. Plus, Smokey had no role models. No other drummer was asked to do what Bob Wills asked Smokey to do. How Smokey adapted is a key piece of drumming history.

I was working on a five-part feature series for Modern Drummer magazine in1981 called The History of Rock Drumming. One part was called Country Drummers. I was originally talking with Smokey for some basic information on Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys's influence on the early rock-and-roll musicians like Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Roy Orbison who created their brand of rock from a country music foundation.

While I was interviewing Smokey I realized what a pivotal drummer he was. So I kept the tape rolling, thinking I would have little trouble, if any, persuading MD Founder Ron Spagnardi that Smokey Dacus was worth a feature interview.

I was wrong. Yes, I did include Smokey in my Country Drummers segment, but the full interview has been sitting in a box since 1981. I found it again about two weeks ago, thankful I have a venue with Life Beyond the Cymbals where I can publish this interview myself.


Click here to read the Full Interview