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Louisiana Hayride was a radio and later television country music show broadcast from the Shreveport Municipal Memorial Auditorium in Shreveport, Louisiana, that during its heyday from 1948 to 1960 helped to launch the careers of some of the greatest names in American music. Elvis Presley performed on the radio version of the program in 1954, and made his first television appearance on the TV version on March 3, 1955.

The show's creators took the name from the 1941 book with that title by Harnett Kane that was made into a Broadway show, also called Louisiana Hayride. Within a year of its debut, the program was so popular that a regional 25-station network was set up to broadcast portions of the show. The flagship station of the program was KWKH-AM in Shreveport. The popularity of Louisiana Hayride spawned various incarnations in other parts of the United States, most notably in Cincinnati on WLW-AM and, later, television dubbed its version Midwestern Hayride.

The 1953 movie, "The Band Wagon," includes a musical number entitled "Louisiana Hayride" which is performed by Nanette Fabray and the chorus, which is an apparent reference to this program.[1]

From 1948 to the late 1950s, Horace "Hoss" Logan produced the Louisiana Hayride. In 1999 he published a book about the Hayride that received acclaim from reviewers such as Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews. Beginning with the successful first show on April 3, 1948, the Louisiana Hayride ranked second only to Nashville's Grand Ole Opry in terms of importance until ABC began telecasting Ozark Jubilee in 1955.

While the Opry, the Jubilee and the Hayride all showcased established stars, the Hayride was where talented, but virtual unknowns, were also given exposure to a large audience. Over the years, country music greats such as Hank Williams, Webb Pierce, Kitty Wells, Jimmie Davis, Will Strahan, Slim Whitman, Floyd Cramer, Sonny James, Hank Snow, Faron Young, Johnny Horton, Jim Reeves, Claude King, Jimmy Martin, George Jones, John and The Three Wise Men, Johnny Cash, Frankie Miller, Tex Ritter, and Lefty Frizzell, among many others performed on the Louisiana Hayride.

By mid 1954, a special 30-minute portion of the Louisiana Hayride was being broadcast every Saturday on the AFN Pacific channel of the United Kingdom Scottish Forces Radio Network. On October 16 of that year, a teenager from Memphis, Tennessee named Elvis Presley appeared on the radio program. Presley's performance of his newly-released song from Sun Records called "That's All Right Mama" brought a tepid response, according to former Hayride emcee Frank Page, but soon after Presley was nonetheless signed to a one-year contract for future appearances. The immediate and enormous demand for more of Presley's new kind of rockabilly music actually resulted in a sharp decline in the popularity of the Louisiana Hayride that until that point had been strictly a country music venue. On March 3, 1955, Presley made his first television appearance on the TV version of the program, carried by KSLA-TV.

Within a few years, rock and roll dominated the music scene, and on August 27, 1960, the Louisiana Hayride put on its final performance, though there have been attempts in the years since to revive it, and some strictly local performances have been done in the Shreveport area under the name. Meanwhile, KWKH currently has a classic country format reminiscent of the Hayride era. Barney Cannon (1955-2009), a KWKH deejay, became a specialist on the history of country music, KWKH and the Hayride.

Performers

References

  1. ^ Internet Movie Database, The Band Wagon.
  • "The Louisiana Hayride Years: Making Musical History in Country's Golden Age" by Horace Logan – (1999), St. Martin's Press (ISBN 0-312-20661-5)
Shreveport portal

External links

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