Born in the Panhandle town of Dozier, Texas, on November 6, 1921, Bartow Riley was the son of a country fiddler who also sang bass and was recorded with the Copeland Quartet. Riley grew up playing rhythm guitar behind his father's groups and hearing other noted fiddlers as they came through as migrant workers to pick cotton each fall. He served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II.

Riley bought his first fiddle in the 1950s and recorded a number of albums, solo and with others, beginning in the next decade. He owned a television and radio repair shop in Olton, Texas, and performed frequently at fiddle competitions. Riley served as a judge at the National Oldtime Fiddlers Contest in Idaho and as an early board member of the Texas Association, while his wife Lylous served as secretary and contributed to the group's newsletter. The two appeared in the 1975 Roy Rogers film Mackintosh and T.J. Riley was inducted into the Texas Fiddlers' Frolic Hall of Fame in 2004. He passed away in Childress, Texas, on April 11, 2011.

This collection includes unique recordings of many famous fiddlers, such as Eck Robertson, Major Franklin, Benny Thomasson and members of the Solomon family from the 1950s through the 1980s. Many modern commercial recordings in the genre are also included.

The collection comprises more than 100 recordings on 1/4-inch reel-to-reel magnetic audio tape, plus almost a dozen compact discs including two commercial recordings. The tape materials, recorded at his home, in other private residences, and at old-time fiddler competitions in many locations, include rare performances by recognized masters of the genre.


For more information about this collection or the Crossroads of Music Archive, contact Curtis Peoples, or visit the website Contact Info: Curtis L. Peoples, Ph.D. | Archivist, Crossroads Music Archive | Southwest Collection, Texas Tech University | P. O. Box 41041 | Lubbock, Texas 79409-1041 | Email: | TEL: 1+806-834-5777 | FAX: 1+806-742-0496.

The collection is open for research. Copyright is retained by the authors of items in this collection, or their descendants, as stipulated by U.S. copyright law. Audio and visual recordings may need to be reformatted prior to use and require advance notice to the Reference Librarian.The images in this collection are copyright protected. The images are for study purposes, teaching, classroom projection and research only. Permission to publish these digital files in any form must be obtained from the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library, Texas Tech University, 806-742-9070 or e-mail

Preferred Citation:Bartow Riley Papers and Audio Visual Collection,1953-2003, Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas