Bob Dunn (musician)

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Bob Dunn
Birth name Robert Lee Dunn
Born (1908-02-05)February 5, 1908[1]
Braggs, Oklahoma, U.S.
Died May 27, 1971(1971-05-27) (aged 63)
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Genres Western swing - Jazz
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Steel guitar, Trombone
Years active 1930s-1940s
Associated acts Panhandle Cowboys and Indians - Milton Brown and His Musical Brownies - Cliff Bruner's Texas Wanderers - Bill Mounce and the Sons of the South

Robert Lee "Bob" Dunn (February 5, 1908 - May 27, 1971) was an American jazz trombonist and a pioneer Western swing steel guitarist.[2] Although much influenced by influential, key Hawaiian lap steel guitar player Sol Hoʻopiʻi, Dunn played in his own original bluesy style and was the first to record an electric guitar, preceding other country & western guitarists following him shortly. He preceded by over three years George Barnes (with Big Bill Broonzy in 1938), Leonard Ware and, slightly later, Eddie Durham.

Bob Dunn is noted as the first musician to record an electrically amplified instrument—as a member of Milton Brown and His Musical Brownies—on January 27, 1935.[3][dubious ]

Dunn also played steel guitar in numerous other Western swing groups including those of Cliff Bruner and one of Moon Mullican's earlier bands. Dunn also had his own group, The Vagabonds, featuring Mullican and Cliff Bruner.

Dunn was inducted into to the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame in 1992.


  1. ^ Ginell, Milton Brown and the Founding of Western Swing, p: 108: "Robert Lee Dunn was born near the town of Braggs, Oklahoma on February 5, 1908." NOTE: Birth date confirmed by Social Security Death Index.
  2. ^ DeCurtis, Present Tense, p. 17-18: In San Antonio Rose, his exhaustive study of life and music of western-swing kingpin Bob wills and his Texas Playboys, Charles Townshend [sic] offers fragmentary but suggestive evidence that T-Bone Walker and Charlie Christian, the front-runners in the first generation of black electric guitarists, were inspired, at least in part, by the early amplified playing of white musicians such as Dunn and McAuliffe. ... Western-swing and jazz present a similar continuum on the white side of the tracks, with men like McAuliffe a jazzy but heavily country-inflected style, while mavericks like Dunn played a kind of pure, futuristic jazz all their own. And every one of these player, black and white, was solidly grounded in the blues."
  3. ^ Oliphant, "Texas Jazz", p. 23: "Prior to Durham's first recorded performance, Bob Dunn had recorded with the Texas Western Swing unit of Milton Brown and His Music Brownies on January 27 and 28, 1935. On this date, dunn played an amplified steel guitar, which primarily was utilized for Hawaiian music."


  • DeCurtis, Anthony. Present Tense: Rock & Roll and Culture. Duke University Press, 1992) ISBN 0-8223-1265-4
  • Ginell, Cary. Milton Brown and the Founding of Western Swing. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1994. ISBN 0-252-02041-3
  • Oliphant, Dave. "Texas Jazz: 1920-50". The Roots of Texas Music edited by Lawrence Clayton, Joe W. Specht, pp. 37–65. Texas A&M University Press, 2005. ISBN 1-58544-492-8

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