History

Adolf Hofner was a Texan Famous for Western Swing

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If you’ve ever been honky tonking and heard the song “Maria Elena,” “Pistol Packin’ Mama,” or “Dude Ranch Schottische,” then you should know the man behind the music, Adolph Hofner. Born on June 8, 1916, this Texas-born American Western swing bandleader, guitarist, and singer got a lot of people moving across the dance floor during his long career.

Born into a family with Czech and German origins, Hofner grew up in Moulton, Texas, in a house filled with Czech and Hawaiian music. After first dabbling in Hawaiian music, he then joined a band as a singer, performing what was to be called Western swing. Hofner was offered a contract with Bluebird Records and made his solo debut in 1938, going on to create the western swing band Adolph Hofner and His Texans. Under sponsorship of Pearl Beer, he formed the Pearl Wranglers in 1950. This group recorded many Czech-American songs, often with the original Czech lyrics. To accommodate their sponsor, when recording “Farewell to Prague,” which makes reference in its original lyrics to Texan-known Spoetzl’s Shiner Bock beer, they changed a word in the lyrics to avoid the reference. You’ll need to know Czech for this one: a band member asks another “Daj mne cervene pivo“, someone replies “Ne!”

Adolf Hofner was a Texan Famous for Western Swing

Photo: envato elements

After 61 years gracing the stage, Hofner suffered from a stroke and could no longer perform. He passed away on June 2, 2000, just six days before his 84th birthday. In his lifetime, Adolph Hofner recorded six albums. If you are on the lookout for his music, take note that during World War II, he went by “Dub” and “Dolph” to avoid the uncomplimentary connection of his real first name. Rather hear about the life of Adolph Hofner from the man himself? Listen to an interview conducted by Chris Strachwitz here. Hats off to this historical figure who experienced the true birth of Western Swing and incorporated seamlessly music from a multitude of different genres.