Gene Autry (1907-1998)
(2007 INDUCTEE) EARLY COUNTRY MUSIC STAR, GENE AUTRY RECORDED FOR THE GENNETT LABEL IN 1929. MANY OF HIS RECORDINGS WERE ISSUED ON GENNETT’S CHAMPION LABEL.
DONATED IN MEMORY OF HARRY GENNETT, JR. BY HIS FAMILY
Gene Autry of Tioga, Texas, was discovered by the famous comedian, Will Rogers. Autry began to appear on radio station KVOO in Tulsa in 1929, where he was billed as “Oklahoma’s Yodeling Cowboy.” He soon moved to Chicago to appear on radio station WLS’ “National Barn Dance” program. Autry recorded in 1929 for a variety of labels, including Columbia, Grey Gull, OKeh, and Gennett. Autry’s 1929 Gennett sessions were first issued on Gennett’s short-lived subsidiary label, Electrobeam. After the label was discontinued in 1930, more than two dozen Autry sides were released on the Champion label, which provided the inspiration for the moniker of Autry’s famous side-kick, his horse “Champion.” As Autry began to appear on screen in 1934, his popularity skyrocketed, and country music acquired a new hero in the form of the cowboy. Although he is most often remembered for his recordings of “Here Comes Santa Claus” and “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,” Autry’s singing cowboy recordings made a lasting impact on country music.
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