Texas Music Legend Bobby Flores Has Died

Few voices ever graced the Western traditions of Texas music so eloquently, and perhaps nobody ever brought such compositional prowess to the music and with a host of instruments as Bobby Flores. Known as a side man to some of country music’s most famous artists, as well as an accomplished solo artist, Bobby Flores did so much in the service of Western Swing and traditional music, and so often selflessly. A Grammy award winner, and an inductee into numerous Halls of Fame, he was cherished most especially among his musician peers. Bobby Flores died on June 23rd, after battling against Stage IV Esophageal Cancer.

Bobby Flores started singing when he was a young child, including performing in a duo with his mother. He also began learning violin at a young age, and started performing at fairs and festivals in his own band by the time he was 13. While still in school, Bobby Flores started performing with Ray Price whenever possible. This led to lifelong standing invitation for Bobby to perform in Ray’s band any time, which he did for decades. At the age of 19, Flores joined the band of Texas legend Johnny Bush, who he also continued to performed with over the years.

Bobby Flores later went on to study music theory and classical violin at Trinity University under Dominic Saltarelli. He also studied jazz guitar with Jackie King, and classical guitar with David Underwood. From fiddle, to steel guitar and lead guitar, Bobby could do it all. Though he never stopped collaborating with other musicians, and this in part allowed him to perform at places like The Grand Ole Opry and Austin City Limits, he also was well-known throughout Texas as a solo artist.

Bobby Flores released his first original single in 1972, and would continue to record and release music as a solo artist throughout the mid 70s. In the 80s, he became the vocalist for a touring group called Gone City, and in 1990 released an album called Some Fires Never Die with his group Angel Fire. It was in 2002 when Bobby started his own label Yellow Rose Records that his solo recording career came to it’s biggest prominence. Flores would release eight albums over the next 16 years, including 2018’s Coming Full Circle with God featuring religious material.

Over this whole time though, Bobby Flores never stopped performing and recording with others. With credits on over 400 albums and singles, including major label artists, performers from outside of the United States, and not just in country, but in jazz, blues, classical, and Latin music as well, Bobby Flores was revered throughout the music world, even if his own music was mostly known in Texas. In 2002, Flores received a Grammy Award for his string and brass arrangements, and violin performances on Freddy Fender’s album La Musica de Baldemar Huerta. Flores also established the B.A.M. Recording Studio in 2009, and was a regular producer of albums.

Because Bobby Flores never chased fame and stuck so close to his Texas and Western roots, he never received the stardom he deserved. But for those who knew Bobby Flores, they knew him as a titan of the music, whose touch affected so much of the music emanating from Texas, both by his own hand, and the influence he sowed.

“It is with the heaviest of hearts that I write to inform you that Bobby was called home to be with our Lord at 12:18 this afternoon,” the family said in a statement on June 23rd. “He passed away peacefully in his sleep with his family by his side. From the arms of his family to the arms of Jesus—what more could anyone ask for?”

The death of Bobby Flores has gone mostly under-reported, but his legacy among Texas musicians and fans will not be quickly forgotten.

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