Glenn Stepp, according to a 1954 article, was born and raised
in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. He came from a large family;
he had 3 brothers and two sisters.
He got the musical bug at an early age, forming his first band
called the Oklahoma Music Makers while in high school. The group
played venues such as school dances, halls, rodeos.
Speaking of rodeos, he also rode Brahma bulls and bare backed broncos
Glenn entered the military service in June of 1948. He served with the
Paratroopers of the 187th Regiment that was operating in Hikkido, Japan.
While he was stationed at Camp Campbell, Kentucky, Glenn became one of the
stars of the WKDA Hayloft Jamboree in Nashville, Tennessee.
He received his discharge from the military service after two years and went
back home to Tahlequah. He decided to hitch up with the Oklahoma National Guard,
45th Division. This time is tour of duty took him to Japan and Korea.
While stationed overseas, in addition to his regular military duties, he also
had a group called the "Oklahoma Swingsters" that performed for the troops. He
was also heard over AFRS out of Sapporo, Japan.
When he received his discharge from the military service, this time
he returned to Modesto, California to be near his folks.
In the middle 1950s, folks in the central valley of California near Modesto
were said to have heard "Keep in step with Stepp" over the airwaves
three times a day on radio station KBOX.
In August of 1953, an ad we found shows that Glenn and his group was playing
at the Oakdale Beer Garden in Oakdale, California. The ad also mentions
that the steel guitar player for the band, Lemon Davis(sp?), who was formerly with
T. Texas Tyler.
Around the time the 1954 article ran, Glenn Stepp and the Western Swingsters
were working regularly at the Fun Center in Riverbank, California, just
up the road from Modesto.
Glenn remained popular in the central valley. By 1957, he was a part of the cast
of the television program, "Country-Western Time" that aired on Monday nights
for 90 minutes over KOVR-TV, channel 13 in Stockton, California. Bill Ring, formerly of KWTO, Springfield, Missouri
and Ozark Jubilee fame, was the show's emcee. The station also featured other
country and western themed shows such as the California Hayride
and "Corral 13", a sort of talent contest type show where the winner won a spot
on the California Hayride. The grand prize winner was to receive
a six-month engagement on the Hayride show and a weekend appearance at Riverside
Rancho with Tex Williams and his band.
Roaming around the internet, we found the names of a couple of former members
of Glenn Stepp's band. One was Elmer Whittle, who was also from Tahlequah, Oklahoma.
He was said to play guitar and did the lead vocals for Glenn's group. According
to the Western Swing Society's write-up, this appears to be about the time they both
returned from the military service the first time around. Elmer continued his
career and was inducted into the Pioneers of Western Swing
in 1999. Another member at one time or perhaps just appearing with Glenn's band,
during Glenn's career in the central valley was Smokey
Silver, born in Beggs, Oklahoma and later his family moved to Stockton, California 1942.
He was also inducted into the Pioneers of Western Swing in 2006.
Credits and Sources
- Country Song Roundup; No. 34; September 1954;
American Folk Publications, Inc.
- Country Song Roundup; No. 50; June 1957;
American Folk Publications, Inc.