This Wichita Falls-based band, originally comprised of three brothers, Leon, Sam, and Nat Gibbs, was a very popular western swing band throughout North Texas and the greater Southwest from the 1930s through the 1950s. The group had its origins in the 1930s within the Gibbs family home when the youngest brother, Leon, who was in third grade at the time, convinced his mother to buy him a violin. Leon began learning country songs he heard on the family radio, and soon his two older twin brothers, Sam (on guitar) and Nat (on bass), joined him.
The brothers began playing together in local amateur contests and eventually landed a gig playing live on KWFT in Wichita Falls as the Gibbs Brothers Band. They were joined by Lee Cochran on trumpet, Bob Steed on drums, and Tommy Bruce on lead guitar. By day the twins worked at the local newspaper office, the Times Publishing Company, in the advertising department, while young Leon had a paper route, but at night the brothers cultivated their growing popularity as a band. They eventually renamed their group the Miller Brothers Band. In 1939 the Miller Brothers Band lost Bob Steed and Tommy Bruce, but with the addition of other musicians, the group continued playing regularly around Wichita Falls and drew capacity crowds for many of their performances.
The band was interrupted by World War II, when the brothers served in the military, but they reformed the group after the war. In 1947 they recorded for the Delta record label. Their touring expanded to include shows across the United States, and the Miller Brothers garnered acclaim as one of the top western swing groups in the country. They recorded with a number of other artists as well. They also built the M-B Corral back home in Wichita Falls. The venue became the host club for the Miller Brothers as well as a popular showcase for such rising stars as Tex Ritter, Buck Owens, and Ray Price.
In 1953 Sam Gibbs left the band to focus on his booking agency. In the 1950s the Miller Brothers recorded for the 4 Star label, and in 1955 Cashbox magazine pronounced them the third most successful western swing group in the United States. By the end of the decade, however, Leon Gibbs and Lee Cochran had also left the group. Fiddler Bobby Rhodes, bassist Jimmy McGraw, and steel guitarist Bill Jourdan continued as the Miller Brothers until its demise sometime in the early 1960s.
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Paul Kingsbury, ed., The Encyclopedia of Country Music: The Ultimate Guide to the Music (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998). Duncan McLean, Lone Star Swing: On the Trail of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys (New York: Norton, 1997). Wichita Falls Times Record News, February 26, 2004. Carroll Wilson, Playing By Heart: Leon Gibbs and the Miller Brothers Band (Wichita Falls: Midwestern State University Press, 2003.)
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
“Miller Brothers Band,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed June 26, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
June 4, 2015
Most Recent Revision Date:
July 26, 2020
This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: