Life-size bronze of western swing and honky-tonk music legend and longtime Marble Falls resident Floyd Tillman by renowned sculptor Dan Pogue
Born in Ryan, Okla., and raised in Post, Texas, sharecropper’s son Floyd Tillman was a pioneer of honky-tonk country music. Playing guitar and mandolin, he began performing while still a child. After building his chops with Adolph and Emil Hofner’s band in San Antonio, he led the famed Blue Ridge Playboys of Houston, considered the country innovators of their pre-World War II era. Adding electric guitar, banjo and vocals to his repertoire, he joined Houston’s Mack Clark Orchestra in 1936. Exposure to jazz influenced the development his distinctive, off-the-beat style, one that has informed the work of many artists including Willie Nelson. Tillman co-wrote “It Makes No Difference Now” with Blue Ridge Playboy Leon “Pappy” Selph, but sold the rights for $300 — a mistake he regretted as it became a hit for artists from Gene Autry to Bing Crosby. Twenty-eight years later, he regained ownership of his biggest hit, considered one of the first examples of the “tears in beer”-style lyric that has defined country music. The 1938 tune earned him a recording contract with Decca Records; after reaching No. 2 with “I'm Gonna Change All My Ways,” he charted his only No. 1 hit with 1944’s “They Took The Stars Out of Heaven.” Tillman created several wartime hits, including “G.I. Blues” and “Each Night At Nine,” which so expressively conveyed a soldier’s loneliness, it was used by Axis Sally and Tokyo Rose to encourage troop desertions. Others included “I Love You So Much It Hurts,” “Slippin’ Around” (a cheating-song prototype that inspired Tillman to write his own answer tune, “I’ll Never Slip Around Again”). Tillman also penned “I Gotta Have My Baby Back,” “Small Little Town,” “I'll Take What I Can Get” and “This Cold War With You,” all considered classics. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1984. In 2003, at 88, he died from leukemia in Bacliff, Texas, where he had moved to live closer to his son.