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Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 487

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This is the grave of Vic Willis.

Born in 1922 in Oklahoma, Vic Willis was part of the Willis Brothers, a country music act that developed in the Sooner State in the late 1930s. They moved to Kansas City, broke up for awhile as they all fought in World War II, and then rejoined after the war. Vic was the accordionist. They signed a recording contract and, most important for their legacy, became Hank Williams’ backup band for many of his recordings. They toured with Eddy Arnold for many years and had some hits of their own, most notably 1964’s “Give Me Forty Acres (To Turn This Rig Around).” The silly trucking songs of the era were their bread and butter.

While Vic Willis and his brothers were long-time members of the Grand Ole Opry and important, if seemingly minor, characters on the Nashville scene, in fact Vic was a really important guy. He was the secretary-treasurer of the Musicians Union in Nashville for a long time. He also served as the person basically in charge for the Opry’s commercials, from his home studio, which he recorded himself and his band–after 1980, the Vic Willis Band–and also other artists. He appeared on the Opry frequently until he wrecked his car and died driving along the Natchez Trace Parkway, in 1995.

Here’s a few highlights from Willis’ work:

Vic Willis is buried in Woodlawn Memorial Park, Nashville, Tennessee.

This grave visit was funded by LGM reader contribution. If you would like to see this series cover other country musicians, you can donate to cover the required expenses here. Hank Williams is in Montgomery, Alabama and Eddy Arnold is actually in the same cemetery as Willis but I ran out of time to spend there while I was wandering around trying (and failing sadly) to find Tammy Wynette. There’s a lot of country musicians there! Previous posts in this series are archived here.

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