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Bill Thurman: Bio

My mom was a pretty good piano player and I was just hooked on music from the earliest age. When we moved to Memphis in 1956, that was the same year that Elvis was hitting big on the national scene, and not just being a 'southern boy' star anymore. By the time I had reached 14, I had played piano, violin, viola, clarinet, bassoon, the tuba and electric organ in little high school bands. I started playing professionally at age 16 with Noel Gilbert and the Memphis Strings and backed up recording artists as diverse as Paul Revere and the Raiders, Merilee Rush, B.J. Thomas, The Boxtops, Jim Dickinson, The Barkays, Al Green, O.V. Wright, Isaac Hayes, Dionne Warwick, Brenda Lee and dozens more. I actually studied and took lessons from Mr Gilbert for nearly ten years, mainly on viola and some violin. Two of the biggest recording engineer/producers I worked for were the legendary music men, Willie Mitchell and Chips Moman. The first professional recording session I ever played was with the other Memphis Strings in 1965 while still in high school. it was for adding strings on to tracks written and arranged by Spooner Oldham at a studio in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Spooner was a calm, cool and very together person. Some of my old fiddle and guitar heros are Kenny Baker, Vassar Clements, Johnny Gimble, Kevin Burke, Johnny Cunningham, Stephane Grappelli, Django Reinhardt, Eddie South, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, Stuff Smith and the list goes on and on. three of my greatest jazz influences have been saxophonists Fred Ford, Charles Lloyd and pianists Keith Jarrett, JS Bach and Herbie Hancock. I have degrees, Bachelor of Music and Masters of Music, from University of Memphis in the early and middle !970's. During that period, in addition to my session work, I played viola with the Memphis Symphony and later the Nashville Symphony. I returned to Memphis in '81 and played viola and a bit of violin for the Memphis Symphony for several more years. Toward the end of the '80's I had had enough of the Symphony. I primarily make my living by teaching, violin, viola, fiddle, mandolin, beginning guitar and beginning piano, in addition to the events, weddings, parties, recording sessions and other independent contract work that I do. Lots and lots of fiddling has also been a part of my schedule. I just recently had the pleasure and honor of playing in the string section for Stevie Wonder and his 'Songs From The Key Of Life' tour at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock, AR.