This Day in Texas History: Rockabilly Star is Born in Nacogdoches
This Day in Texas History:
Rockabilly Star is Born in Nacogdoches
Aprii 15, 1937
Robert Glynn (Bob) Luman, guitarist and country and rockabilly singer, was born in Nacogdoches, Texas, on April 15, 1937, the son of Joe and Lavine Luman. Luman was introduced to music by his father, who played the fiddle, guitar, and harmonica in local amateur bands. He received his first guitar at age thirteen. In high school in Kilgore, where the family had moved, he formed his own band. Luman was also a baseball star at Kilgore High School.
In 1955 he saw the South’s newest singing sensation, Elvis Presley, an encounter that helped him determine his career interest. After failing a trial in professional baseball with the Pittsburgh Pirates, he dedicated himself full-time to music. In 1956 he won a talent contest held by the Future Farmers of America. This earned him a spot as a regular on the Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport. At the show Luman formed the Shadows, a band that consisted of James Burton on guitar, James Kirkland on bass, and Butch White on drums. In 1957 he signed with Imperial Records and recorded “All Night Long” and “Amarillo Blues.” That same year, he was televised on Town Hall Party in Los Angeles and appeared in the movie Carnival Rock, backing the film’s featured artist, David Houston. A year later, after being released by the Imperial label, Luman signed with Capitol Records and recorded “Try Me” and “I Know My Baby Cares.” After a dispute with Capitol over changing his name, which he refused to do, Luman was dropped by the label. He then signed with Warner Brothers in 1959 and recorded “Class of ’59” and “Loretta.”
In 1960, shortly before being drafted by the United States Army, he released the single “Let’s Think About Living,” which hit the Top 10 while he was in the service. Even though he never had another song on the pop charts, “Let’s Think About Living” started a long string of country hits. After his discharge from the army in 1962 Luman moved to Nashville. He married on August 12, 1964. He and his wife Barbara had a daughter in 1966. In 1965 Luman joined the Grand Ole Opry and toured regularly. He became a popular attraction in Las Vegas by mixing country and rockabilly in his live shows. He signed with Epic Records in 1968 and produced fifteen chart hits and four Top 10 hits over the next ten years, including “Lonely Women Make Good Lovers” and “Still Loving You.”
He performed for the last time with the Grand Ole Opry on December 15, 1978. He died of pneumonia in Nashville on December 27, 1978, and was buried in Hendersonville Memory Gardens in Hendersonville, Tennessee. After Luman’s death, Bear Family Records released several of his records including More of the Rocker (1979), Still Rockin’ (1984), and Carnival Rock (1984). Luman was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame in 2007.
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