We feature Gene autry with this salute. Starting with an early song, and lots of biographical trivia for you.
Orvon Grover Autry was born September 29, 1907 near Tioga in Grayson County in north Texas, the grandson of a Methodist preacher. His parents, Delbert Autry and Elnora Ozment, moved in the 1920s to Ravia in Johnston County in southern Oklahoma. He worked on his father’s ranch while at school. After leaving high school in 1925, Autry worked as a telegrapher for the St. Louis–San Francisco Railway. His talent at singing and playing guitar led to performing at local dances.
It also got him fired from his job. A customer of the railroad company, Will Rogers, suggested he should consider a singing career. His style of music back then was a little different than fans would come to know later.
For example, this tune: Blue Yodel No. 5.
After leaving his job as a telegrapher, and at the advice of Will Rogers, Gene left for New York. Though he didn’t get a record contract, the executives at the newly formed RCA-Victor record company recommended he sing on the radio to gain experience. They even gave him a letter of recommendation, and was told to come back in a year. Gene’s singing career took off in a big way. One of his later hits before breaking into the movies was, Nobody to Call Me Darling, 1935.
Regarding the Melody Ranch radio program, John Dunning’s reference book, “Tune in Yesterday,” puts it this way:
It featured a slightly sophisticated version of his 1929 act—Autry stories and songs, projected in a campfire atmosphere. Autry told his listeners that his broadcasts were coming directly from his home, Melody Ranch, in the San Fernando Mountains. He surrounded himself with a cast of regular foot-stompers … The music was decidedly Western, with heavy accordion emphasis. There was usually one “Cowboy Classic” by Autry. Pat Buttram’s acts were inserted for comic relief and consisted mainly of back-and-forth banter with Autry … The highlight of each show, at least for the juvenile listeners, came when Autry told a 10- to 15-minute story, fully dramatized, of some recent adventure.
Among the trivia, we share a few moments in the bunk house as Gene Autry talks with his cowboy from Brooklyn, Winston, and Pat Butram. They talk about living to be 100.
Gene’s movie career started with the film, Oh, Susanna!, in 1936
Gene also was a war hero in World War 2, owned a minor league baseball team that later became a major league team, (the California Angels) and he was involved in the rodeo. The clean cut character he portrayed in radio and films was pretty accurate to his real life personality. A nice guy that everybody liked.
We see some of his nice guy character, and demonstration of his cowboy code as Gene does what he can in Clearing Big Bill Collins Name.
In response to his many young radio listeners aspiring to emulate him, Autry created the Cowboy Code, or Ten Cowboy Commandments. These tenets promoting an ethical, moral, and patriotic lifestyle that appealed to youth organizations such as the Boy Scouts, which developed similar doctrines. The Cowboy Code consisted of rules that were “a natural progression of Gene’s philosophies going back to his first Melody Ranch programs—and early pictures.”
According to the code:
- The Cowboy must never shoot first, hit a smaller man, or take unfair advantage.
- He must never go back on his word, or a trust confided in him.
- He must always tell the truth.
- He must be gentle with children, the elderly, and animals.
- He must not advocate or possess racially or religiously intolerant ideas.
- He must help people in distress.
- He must be a good worker.
- He must keep himself clean in thought, speech, action, and personal habits.
- He must respect women, parents, and his nation’s laws.
- The Cowboy is a patriot.
Gene had many holiday songs, in addition to his usual songs for adults. He also sang songs for kids, like: Smokey the Bear
Time is running short, but we squeeze in another visit to the bunk house. Learn about Pat Butrams Busy Day.
After a few words to wrap things up, we share a final tune or two.
Stay Away From My Chicken House… and how could we neglect his signature song? Back in the Saddle Again.