In 2004, the Western Swing Music Society of the Southwest held its Hall of Fame Showcase in Yukon, Oklahoma, a little west of Oklahoma City. The event featured three days of dancing and performances by bands of the genre. On its final day, the group honored twenty-five people by inducting them into its hall of fame. They were Hank Thompson, Sid Barnes, Clyde Brewer, Troy Burgin, Gene Carter, Bud Duncan, Bill Garner, Red Gillian, Keith Holter, Dick Heil, Gary Howe, Frankie McWhorter, Bill Mitchell, Ray Poe, Charlie Mudford, Sam Necochea, Russell O’Neal, Billy Parker, Stan Peters, Bill Philley, Duane Pollard, Rod Rodriquez, Don Tolle, Harold Whacker and Lynn Ward.Continue reading Frankie McWhorter
Charley Frank Pride was born on March 18, 1934 to Fowler McArthur “Mack” Pride and Tessie B. Stewart Pride in Sledge, Mississippi. His family survived by being sharecropping cotton farmers. Charley told of wanting to have a career in baseball and initially set out to do so. He left home at sixteen to pursue a baseball career and was a pitcher in the old Negro Leagues following his older brother Mack, Jr.Continue reading Charley Pride
Alvis Edgar “Buck” Owens, Jr.
Buck Owens was born Alvis Edgar Owens, Jr. to Alvis Edgar and Macie Owens in Sherman, Texas in 1929. He is said to have given himself the nickname of Buck after his favorite mule (alternately said to be a donkey or a horse in different accounts) when he was young. His father, Alvis Edgar, Sr., was a sharecropping farmer in Grayson County, Texas. In 1937, the family moved west to Arizona. The family legend is that their trailer broke down near Phoenix, Arizona where they had other relatives, so they elected to settle there. Similar to the stories of many other musical artists, Buck’s mother sang and played the piano at their home and in church. Buck learned to play the guitar, mandolin and other instruments when he was a youth. He dropped out of school at age thirteen to help the family survive and did all sorts of jobs to raise money. As a young man, Buck began performing in honky-tonks to earn his living. When he was about twenty, he married his first wife, the former Bonnie Campbell, a singer in a band both she and Buck played in called Mac and the Skillet Lickers. Buck and Bonnie eventually moved to Bakersfield, California where Buck began to play around town and in the surrounding area. Buck and Bonnie would remain married for about five years. He was married three more times.
(Image credit: Associated Press)
Jimmy Ray Dean was born August 10, 1928 to George Otto and Ruth Taylor Dean in Seth Ward, Hale, Texas which lies just outside of Plainview. At that time, the family was to be operating a farm. Ruth was Otto’s second wife, but by the time Jimmy was 11 or 12, Ruth was listed as a single parent, working as a seamstress out of her home in Seth Ward. From that point on, the family consisted of Ruth, her sons Jimmy and Don. Ruth later is said to have become a barber to support her family. At an early age, Jimmy learned to play the piano, accordion, harmonica and guitar as he worked around the family farm. He was active in the local Baptist church there in Seth Ward and attributed his interest in music to his mother and the music in church.
(Image credit: FreddyFender.com)
Freddy Fender was born Baldemar Garcia Huerta in San Benito, Cameron County, Texas on June 4, 1937. His parents were Serapio and Margarita Garcia Huerta, who were migrant farm workers. Huerta was the oldest of four children and was raised around music, including lively “conjunto,” a traditional style of music that includes a blend of Tejano and references to German polka, including the use of an accordion. He performed as early as the age of ten on a Harlingen, Texas radio station. He dropped out of high school and lied about his age to join the United States Marine Corps. He served from 1954 to 1956. Huerta married in 1957 as he began to perform as “El Be-Bop Kid” and other stage names, doing covers of popular American hits of artists like Elvis Presley but singing them in Spanish. He and his wife Evangelina had five children. They divorced and remarried at one point, but otherwise were married for about forty-five years.