Leon Rausch, the beloved Voice of the Texas Playboys for over 60 years, passed away this morning in Fort Worth , Texas. A great loss for Western Swing music
Jason Roberts, Bob Wills’ Texas Playboys fiddler says on Facebook: "Yes our hearts are broken, as will be the hearts of the thousands of music fans he touched and influenced over his amazing career when they hear this news. Our band would not exist without Leon carrying the Texas Playboys torch all these years and giving us the blessing to carry it on. We are sad and send prayers of peace to his family and friends, mostespecially the amazing Vonda Rauch, who was by his side for 69 of Leon’s 91 years.
We will find peace and healing by playing and performing the music that Leon helped immortalize. When an entertainer of Leon’s stature and caliber pass away we are fortunate because they leave a body of work that we can enjoy for generations to come. A lot of us will be enjoying Leon’s body of work today and for years to come as we reflect on his life and legacy. Godspeed and well done sir."
Born Edgar Leon Rausch on October 2, 1927 in Billings, Missouri, Leon Rausch was known as "the voice" of "Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys". Rausch was lead vocalist from 1958 until the early 60s when he created his own band "The New Texas Playboys". In 1973, Wills asked Rausch to rejoin the Texas Playboys to record his final album "For the Last Time".
After Wills died in 1975, Rausch and the original Texas Playboys continued to record and tour until the band played the final concert in 1986. Rausch still performs each year at the Bob Wills day festival the last weekend of April in Turkey, Texas at the Bob Wills community center. The music of The Texas Playboys is "Western Swing".
In 2011, the Texas Legislature adopted a resolution designating western swing as the official "State Music of Texas". Rausch made a memorable appearance as a band singer in the 1998 Stephen Frears film The Hi-Lo Country, in a scene featuring one of the film's highlights — Don Walser's rendition of "I'll Hold You in My Heart."