A Guide to the Bill Boyd Papers, 1930-1966
Bill Boyd was born September 29, 1913, and grew up on a ranch in Fannin County, Texas. He began his radio career as a teenager at radio station WRR in Dallas, Texas, performing as a "Lone Singing Cowboy and His Guitar," until he formed a band, "Bill Boyd and His Cowboy Ramblers." The group performed a very popular live program for the station and made frequent personal appearances at dances, concerts, and fairs throughout Texas.
In 1934, Boyd contracted to record on RCA's Bluebird label and later on the more prestigious Victor label. He eventually made over 300 records for RCA alone. He published hundreds of songs,usually with the M.M. Cole Publishing Company. Collaborators included Leon Payne and Bill Nettles.
Boyd's popularity as a singer led to the contract with Producers Recording Corporation for thirty-six films, of which only six were produced before the advent of World War II. Casts in these "B" Westerns included Charlie King, Kermit Maynard, Glenn Strange, and Eddie Dean.
Bill Boyd enjoyed the height of his popularity in the 1940's. When television became popular and live radio performances were eliminated, Boyd disbanded the Cowboy Ramblers and worked as a popular disc jockey on WRR, KTER and KSKY. A stroke ended his radio career, which had spanned forty-four years, from 1932 until 1976. Boyd died in 1977 in Dallas.
This collection contains the personal archives of Bill Boyd (1913-1977) the "Cowboy Rambler," Texas radio and film personality. Most material in the collection covers Boyd's most successful years from about 1940 until the end of the 1950s. Materials include business and professional correspondence, publicity material, legal and financial documents, scrapbook material, sheet music trade journals, and song books. The collection also includes numerous newspaper clippings and photographs as well as handbills, broadsides, and posters. The arrangement of the Bill Boyd Papers as established by Mr. Boyd has, for the most part, been retained. Some folder titles have been changed or clarified for the benefit of the researchers.
Boyd's classified files comprise the largest group of materials. They include correspondence with his musical collaborators as well as with his publisher, M. M. Cole, and his record producer, RCA. Sheet music usually appears with materials related to the co-writer but miscellaneous scores can be found with "Recording material" and with "Song books, sheet music, and scores." Boyd's files also contain his legal records, including royalty agreements and receipts, and Library of Congress copyrights.
The collection includes about six hundred lead sheets, or lyrics without music, as well as some miscellaneous correspondence regarding Boyd's guitar school, and a radio show script. The financial records document Boyd's involvement in various business enterprises as well as his more mundane household expenditures and travel expenses.
Boyd's music collection consists of song books and sheet music published by other artists between 1930 and 1960. Boyd's own published music is included in his classified files, with "Song books, sheet music, and scores." Most of the scrapbook material includes loose material from Boyd's scrapbooks as well as miscellaneous memorabilia. A scrapbook contains newsclippings documenting Boyd's wartime efforts in bond sales.
The collection contains numerous photographs, mostly 8 X 10 black and white movie stills as well as a few snapshots and publicity photos. A few photos are attached to dummy copies of Boyd's fan magazine. A large blown-up photograph of Boyd on posterboard as well as an autographed photograph of Boyd's friend, William "Hopalong Cassidy" Boyd, are located in 3S158.
Other materials in the collection include broadsides, posters, press books, and an architectural rendering of Boyd's Dallas home. Various artifacts such as a cloth pennant embroidered by a fan and Boyd rubber stamp and metal printing plates are also present in the collection.
Bill Boyd Papers, 1930-1966, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
This collection was processed by Sandra Young, May 1984.
Detailed Description of the Papers