Like Mother, Like Son

The legacy of bluegrass & western swing lives on through Texas Playgirl Ramona Reed and her son Jim Paul Blair.

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Ramona Reed performs with her son Jim Paul Blair (right). Also pictured is band member Bill Morgan. Photo by Dan Morgan.

Ramona Reed performs with her son Jim Paul Blair (right). Also pictured is band member Bill Morgan.
Photo by Dan Morgan.

Jim Paul Blair’s childhood memories are different from most. At four-years-old, it was commonplace for young Blair to hang out in his mother’s motel room with the likes of Bob Wills, Eldon Shamblin, Keith Coleman and Tommy Allsup.

“I just knew that she was involved in music,” says Blair. “The rest of it never registered with me–I didn’t realize that my life was different.”

His mother is Ramona Reed, famed vocalist and yodeler, an original member of Tulsa’s own Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys and no stranger to Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry.

Blair was the youngest of three children at the time – a younger brother would come along later. His two older sisters were in school so he had the pleasure of tagging along with Mom as she embarked on the resurgence of her career.

“I was bored to death playing country music –I wanted to play rock and roll.

“I did a lot with Bob Wills and I just took Jim with me,” says Reed.

Born in Tahlihina in 1930, Ramona Reed’s stardom started at around age 12, performing for community organizations, USO events and radio shows. Word has it that she could yodel before she could speak.

At 13, she convinced her mother to take her to St. Louis for voice lessons. She auditioned  for instructor Louise Kregor who advised  Ramona to wait until age 15. Reed was disappointed – then the sign advertising the opportunity to make a record caught her eye.

“I begged my mother to go in,” says Reed. “I made a couple of records and the guy told my mother that she needed to get me some auditions.”

Fast forward to 1951, age 19, when Reed started performing with Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. She married Jimmie Blair of Clayton, Okla. in 1952 and had been with Wills’ band for several years when Jim Paul came along in 1961.

Blair mentions that his dad, Jimmie, was an engineer. He wasn’t musically-inclined, but he loved to dance.

Blair believes the musical legacy began with his maternal grandfather.

“My grandfather was an entertainer. Keep in mind that he was born in 1898 – back in the days of vaudeville,” says Blair.

Reed remembers her father singing, dancing and even yodeling. “He taught me a lot of songs when I was a little girl,” says Reed.

At age 12, Jim Paul Blair decided to become a drummer.

“She [Reed] would get jobs working with bands at rodeos, and they would hire me to play the drums,” says Blair. “I was bored to death playing country music –I wanted to play rock and roll.”

Little did he know that his opinion of country music would drastically change.

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