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Fingerless Fiddler

Written by Gene Fowler.

The fabulous fingerless fiddlin' of Ranger resident Roy Thackerson can be heard on his newest CD, "Pickin' North of the Red River" (see

Some Texans love making music so much that no obstacle proves too great to overcome. Roy Thackerson, "The Fingerless Fiddler," of Ranger has overcome far more than the average picker.

While growing up in Cisco, Roy found a dynamite cap and lit it with a match. The explosion destroyed his left eye and blew off all or part of every finger of his left hand. It was 1944, and Roy was six years old.

Roy's mother, father, and brothers all played fiddle and/or guitar, and Roy was doggone determined to play, too. With great patience, he learned how to flat-pick a guitar dobro-style and began playing in area bands. "I used a Fritz Hair Oil bottle for the bar," says Roy.

Around 1968, he noticed that the De Leon Peach and Melon Festival was having a fiddling contest with cash prizes. With the help of a friend, Roy devised a "gut strap," a belt-like device that went around his waist, with a vertical wooden bar to hold up his fiddle so that he could fret it from over the top. He learned to play, and was soon amazing folks at fiddlin' contests and bluegrass fests from Hale Center to Mercedes.

Roy especially enjoys playing for residents of nursing homes. "There's nothing more satisfying than playing for folks who can hardly raise their heads, and then they hear that fiddle and go to tapping that foot. It's electrifying," says Roy.

From 1979 to 1991, Roy played the Grand Ole Opry two or three times a year as a guest of Roy Acuff, often ac-companied by his brother Burt Wayne Thackerson, who passed away in 1997. "I'm still waitin' for Willie to call and invite me on Austin City Limits," chuckles Roy. "That'd be a real highlight."

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