Inductee Biography for TRAVIS EDMONSON
Although Travis Edmonson was born in Long Beach, California on September 23, 1932, his roots as a member of a 7th generation Arizona pioneer family plus the fact he moved to Arizona as an infant gives him full honorary native Arizona status. Growing up in Nogales, Arizona along the Mexican border, Travis was inspired by the musical sounds he heard from the Mexican culture. These sounds were a major influence on his music throughout his career.
His father was the first social welfare officer in southern Arizona and his mother was a dedicated teacher. Growing up with three older brothers, who all played instruments, made music a big part of the Edmondson family. His first public singing debut at the age of seven was in the St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, where the family sang in the choir. At the age of 5 Travis briefly appeared in the role of Curley on the TV Show Our Gang.
After a stint in the U.S. Army he began playing solo concerts around the country. His first big break came in the early 50’s when he was invited by Lou Gottlieb (of the Limeliters) to join the Gateway Singers, the resident group at the legendary Hungry I night club. He soon moved on to solo performances at the famous Purple Onion Cafe in San Francisco with his recorded version of Malaguena Salerosa selling one million copies. Travis’s brother, Collin, introduced him to Bud Dashiell thus forming their highly successful duet Bud and Travis. Bud and Travis recorded eight albums for the Liberty label from 1959 – 1965, along with performing on TV including the “The Smother’s Brother’s show”. Between their tours they both pursued solo careers and Travis was signed to Frank Sinatra’s newly formed “Reprise record label”.
Returning to Arizona in the late 60’s Travis continued playing music including a performance of his song “The Time of Man” before a joint session of the United States Congress. He also created a musical score for the paintings exhibition by his good friend Ted De Grazia. His strong interest in Native American tribes earned him honorary membership after he helped to produce a Spanish-Yaqui dictionary.
Tucson’s Singing Ambassador of Good Will, Travis Edmonson, suffered a paralyzing stroke in 1982 thus putting an end to his performing career. In 1995 he was inducted into the Tucson Music Hall of Fame by the Tucson Area Music Awards. On May 9, 2009 Travis passed away. He will be forever missed.
by Linda Jane Brown, Beve Cole