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Published on Jan 19, 2010
Julius Frank Anthony Kuczynski (February 18, 1914 March 7, 2000), known professionally as Pee Wee King, was an American country music songwriter and recording artist best known for co-writing "The Tennessee Waltz."
He was born in Milwaukee to a Polish American family and lived in Abrams, Wisconsin, during his youth. King learned to play fiddle from his father, who was a professional polka musician. In the 1930s, he toured and made cowboy movies with Gene Autry. King joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1937.
In 1946, while the bandleader of the Golden West Cowboys, King, together with the band's vocalist, Redd Stewart, composed "The Tennessee Waltz," inspired by "The Kentucky Waltz" by bluegrass musician Bill Monroe. King and Stewart first recorded "The Tennessee Waltz" in 1948, and it went on to become a country music standard.
King's other songs included "Slow Poke" and "You Belong to Me," both co-authored with Chilton Price and Redd Stewart. His songs introduced waltzes, polkas, and cowboy songs to country music.
Pee Wee refused to change his band's sound at the Grand ol' Opry, over the years being the first to introduce drums, horns, the accordion, and electric instruments including the pedal steel guitar to country music. His band also introduced Nudie Cohn's customized "Rhinestone Cowboy" outfits to the Opry which later became popular with Nashville and country musicians, including Elvis Presley. 
He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970 and the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1974.
He joined producers Randall Franks and Alan Autry for the In the Heat of the Night (TV Series) cast CD Christmas Times A Comin performing "Christmas Time's A Comin'" with the cast on the CD released on Sonlite and MGM/UA for one of the most popular Christmas releases of 1991 and 1992 with Southern retailers.
He died of a heart attack in Louisville, Kentucky, at age 86.