Born: May 12, 1920 in Port Arthur, Texas
Died: Dec. 15, 1987
Billie "Tiny" Moore was born in Port Arthur, TX, and was a Western Swing musician who played the electric mandolin and fiddle with Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. Western swing is a hybrid of country, blues, and jazz.
While a member of the Texas Playboys from 1946 to 1950, he played Gibson electric mandolins: at first an EM-125, and sometime after 1948, an EM-150. Although these are
8-string mandolins, Tiny Moore used only 4 single strings instead of pairs. This gave his mandolin an electric guitar sound. In 1952, he commissioned one of the first American-built 5-string electric mandolins from Paul Bigsby.
At the time, Moore was playing in a band led by Bob Wills' brother, Billy Jack. The Bigsby 5-string mandolin had single course strings (rather than the paired courses on a standard mandolin) and added a low C string to the standard G, D, A and E. This tuning actually gives the instrument a wider range of notes than a guitar. Moore was best known for his mandolin, but he also played other instruments. In the mid-1960s he taught group guitar lessons at the local YMCA in
Sacramento, California. He taught every style of music from Old Timey folk to The Beatles. He also operated Tiny Moore Music, a music store in Sacramento, and sold copies of the Bigsby mandolin built by Jay Roberts of Yuba City.
In the 1970s he was part of "The Strangers," which was Merle Haggard's band. During that decade he also made two recordings with David Grisman for Kaleidoscope Records: "Tiny Moore Music" and Back to Back, a duet album with Jethro Burns. In 1999, Moore was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the Early Influences category as a member of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys.