Christian Curriculum

Funeral Set for Kenny Frazier, 83, Waco Guitarist and Influential Teacher | Local news


Frazier was hailed in 1998 as “one of the best jazz guitarists working today” in “Southwestern Jazz: An Oral History of Western Swing” by Jean Boyd.

Frazier was imbued with Texan music from a young age, absorbing the sounds of Spade Cooley and Bob Wills on the radio as well as the performers of Waco live. He started playing a cheap Stella guitar at age 6, and at age 9 country star and family friend Hank Thompson performed at his birthday party, according to Boyd’s book. . Frazier returned the favor at age 11 by playing guitar at Thompson’s wedding, which was broadcast live on the radio.

He was well known as a local artist by the time he left school at age 15 to tour the country with Charlie Adams and the Western All-Stars. During a three-month stay with the band in Dallas, he met Ernest Tubb’s guitarist Leon Rhodes, who introduced him to the music of jazz guitarist Barney Kessel, who would become a lifelong influence.

Back in Waco, Frazier played a regular show on KWTX-TV with Gimble and was part of the house band at Terrace Club, where he met a then obscure Willie Nelson. In the 1950s and early 1960s he performed with various bands in Texas and even performed with Elvis Presley on the “Louisiana Hayride” radio show.

He was proud to say later that he had been fired from a country group in San Angelo. The lead singer took time off and left him in charge, only to find upon his return that Frazier had turned them into a western swing group.