Leon Roget Payne was born in Wood County, Texas - a small town named Alba.
His sight was impaired at an early age and when he was seven years old,
he attended a school for the blind. He developed an early love and enjoyed
singing. Then he learned to play the guitar. He continued to learn and began
entertaining friends, too.
He graduated from high school when he was 18 and started then to strive
for a life in the music business.
Leon was quoted in one magazine article in 1951 of his start:
"My first job was with a small carnival. It wasn't the best paying job
in the world, but it was a start."
But his talent was such that his first job led to others and more offers. In
fact, he got offers to appear on radio stations in St. Louis, Dallas, Houston
and other cities.
He had some aims as an entertainer - one was said to play the Palace as
most 'vaudeville' entertainers wanted to in New York. Another was to
appear on WSM's Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee.
Leon became a songwriter of note. One of the all time country music classics
was his tune, "I Love You Because".
By 1951, he was playing and entertaining folks in the Houston, Texas area
with his band, the Lone Star Buddies.
Leon got married along the way - married his childhood sweetheart - whom
he first met when he was in grammar school. One of Leon's aims was to make
enough money from his songwriting to eventually retire from live performing
and have his wife read a good book to him once in a while.
He recorded for the Bullet, Capitol and Decca record labels that we know of
along the way.
Timeline and Trivia Notes
Group Members included:
- Leon Payne, guitar, vocals
- Frankie Jurisek, steel guitar
- Ernest Hunter, fiddle
Peter Burke, Bass
- Joe Reesideau, piano and accordion
Credits & Sources
- Country Song Roundup No. 15; December 1951; American Folk Publications, Inc.;