Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Louisiana Hayride On Western Wednesday...!

Even though this popular radio show is not part of the "Old West" we think of, it did introduce many folks to the world of country music!

Many stars got their big break on shows like the Louisiana Hayride, and it fast became one of the leaders in the music world!

Apr 3, 1948:
The Louisiana Hayride radio program premieres on KWKH-AM Shreveport

Even the most ardent non-fans of country music can probably name the weekly live show and radio program that is regarded as country music's biggest stage: the Grand Ole Opry, out of Nashville, Tennessee. Yet even many committed country fans are unfamiliar with a program that, during its 1950s heyday, eclipsed even the Opry in terms of its impact on country music itself. From its premiere on this day in 1948 to its final weekly show in 1960, The Lousiana Hayride, out of Shreveport, Louisiana, launched the careers not only of several country-music giants, but also of a young, genre-crossing singer named Elvis Presley, the future King of Rock and Roll.

In many ways, The Louisiana Hayride was a straightforward knock-off of the Grand Ole Opry, but with two key differences. While both programs focused on country music and targeted the same geographic area with their 50,000-watt signals, The Louisiana Hayride embraced new artists and new musical innovations that the staunchly traditionalist Grand Ole Opry would never consider. While the Opry would rarely if ever feature a performer who had not yet had a hit record, the Hayride often featured up-and-coming artists who had yet to find an audience. And while the Opry banned the electric guitar, the Hayride embraced the instrument that would help transform one strain of "hillbilly music" into the new, hybrid form called rock and roll.

The Louisiana Hayride was the brainchild of Horace Lee Logan, who first became a radio host on Shreveport's KWKH-AM in 1932 at the age of 16. Because most of the talented country artists who got their first breaks on the Hayride—Hank Williams, Kitty Wells, Webb Pierce, Faron Young—would eventually move on to Nashville, it was common to hear The Lousiana Hayride referred to as "the Grand Ole Opry's farm team." Logan, however, always referred to the Opry as "the Tennessee branch of the Hayride."

In addition to giving Hank Williams his first wide radio audience in 1949 and then welcoming him back after the Opry fired him for drunkenness in 1952, Logan and The Louisiana Hayride also gave 19-year-old Elvis Presley a crucial break in October 1954. After a lackluster, single-song debut on the Grand Ole Opry failed to garner him a return invitation, Elvis gave a knockout performance of That's All Right (Mama) and Blue Moon of Kentucky on The Louisiana Hayride that set him on his path toward stardom.

An interesting footnote to the story of The Louisiana Hayride involves the origin of a famous Elvis-related phrase. In gratitude to Horace Logan for the boost he'd provided when Elvis was an unknown back in 1954, Presley gave a return performance on the Hayride in December 1956, at the very peak of his popularity. Midway through the show, thousands of young Elvis fans abandoned their seats after the King's performance, noisily chasing after him in the wings while the live broadcast continued. It was then that Logan took the microphone and coined a famous phrase: "Please, young people...Elvis has left the building...please take your seats."

This is the type of show that helped music make the jump from "Hillbilly" to "Rockabilly" which became...ROCK And ROLL!

Coffee in the kitchen this morning, as it turned chilly again!


texasann said...

Bubba -
I never knew where the "left the building" phrase came from - leave it to you to come up with the answer! Enjoyed this post, as always. I'm here every day, just not always posting, but always ready to give you

Big Hugs -

linda m said...

That is so interesting. I have never heard of the Louisianan Hayride Show before. It is so nice when places will give up and coming artists a chance to perform. There is so much talent out there that never gets a chance to make a name for themselves. Very cold here also.

Dizzy-Dick said...

Boy have you brought back some memories. I always listened to that show and I believe Minnie Pearl was on it, too. I was born and raised in Western Pennsylvania and was close enough to listen to that station. Of course with the high wattage, at night it had a long range.

JO said...

I can't say I ever heard of this show before since it started before I was born and I don't remember my parents listening to country music. Of course I do remember Elvis and he was my mom's favorite singer. She had all his albums.

We are getting lower temps here too and they say by Friday we will be in the 60's.

Pass the pot please.

HermitJim said...

Hey Sis...
Funny how a simple saying like that can become one that is in almost daily use!

Always glad to have you stop in and hugs are never turned down!

Thanks for coming by this morning!

Hey Linda M...
No doubt that an appearance on the hayride helped Elvis get started! He remembered it to!

Thanks for dropping in this morning!

Hey Dizzy...
I'm surprised that you could pick up the hayride from that far away! Things have certainly changed, haven't they?

Thanks, buddy, for coming by today!

Hey Jo...
I'm a little surprised that you never heard the show, but since you didn't listen to country music you probably wouldn't have liked it!

We love ya anyway!

Thanks, sweetie, for coming over this morning!

Rob said...

Chilly & wet! Should be better by the weekend... You need to be halk way down Florida to find the 70's today.

"Elvis has left the building", that's a good one to know!

Mamahen said...

So that's where that line came from....Had heard of the Hayride but the Oprey was the show in our hose that or the Wheeling Jamboree from Wheeling WV. Windy n cold here again so kitchen it is :))

HermitJim said...

Hey Rob...
Nothing the weather does surprises me anymore. I'm just ready for Spring to get here!

Glad you could come by today!

Hey Mamahen...
Cold and wet seems to be the order of the day for most of us!

Funny how many of us cut our teeth on almost the same kind of music!

Many thanks for coming over today!