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KRLD Big D Jamboree
KRLD
Dallas, TX

BIG "D" Jamboree

Early on, they called it the Lone Star Barn Dance but in less than a year after its start in 1947, became known as the Big "D" Jamboree and aired over KRLD out of Dallas. The show was held to crowds at the Sportatorium. Back then, the Sportatorium also hosted other events such as professional wrestling. As a result, they performed on the same ring located in the center of the building. The building sat about 6,300. Back in 1947, Dallas had no other show like this, so it went over pretty big with its listeners. It was also one of the first shows that were spotlighted on CBS' "Saturday Night Country Style" series. (Look at a couple of the photos of the stars in action and you'll see the audience in the background)

The Big D Jamboree Gang
—Left to right (standing): The Morris Brothers (Marvin and Charlie), Otis West, Riley Crabtree, Billy Jack Saucier, Red Gilliam, Al Turner, Tony Miller, Ray Munroe, Buddy Griffin, Roy Wiley, "The Travelin Texan" (Billy Walker)
—Left to right (seated): Gene O'Quinn, Bobby Williamson, Barbara Hazzard, Betty Lou Lobb, Buster White

The producers of the show was Al Turner who also handled emcee duties, too and the owner of the Sportatorium, Ed McLemore. When it first took to the air they had about 20 performers. Around early 1953, they had nearly 50 performers putting on a show each week for four hours each Saturday night. KRLD, then a part of the CBS network, was able to reach audiences in nearly 40 states with its signal. KRLD broadcast all about 30 minutes of the show. Later on in around 1955 and 1956, Johnny Hicks and Johnny Harper were producing the show, too.

Speaking of emcess, the late Hal Horton, KRLD DJ, was a big booster of the show. The show was also plugged by other disc jockeys Jim Foster, Harold Goodman and Al Turner. Al Turner took over the load in 1948 and began a Big "D" Jamboree policy of inviting "name" guest stars for appearances.

Starts that look like they were a part of the Big "D" Jamboree are Sonny James, Riley Crabtree, Artie Glenn, Hank Locklin and others.

And the big names of hillbilly music did make appearances. Names like Homer and Jethro, Floyd Tillman, Hank Thompson, Carolina Cotton, Jimmy Wakely, Carl Smith, Hank Snow, Moon Mullican, Lefty Frizzell and Webb Pierce played before the Big "D" Jamboree audiences. Webb Pierce was the guest star on the show's 10th anniversary gala.

In 1953, 65 cents would get you in to see the show, while kids would pay half-price. The show started at 8:15pm and ended at midnight.

The Big "D" Jamboree also had its share of discoveries and future stars on its roster of talent. Their talent contests found talents such as Oakie Jones, Jimmy Lee and Gene O'Quin.


Artie Glenn


Jimmy and Johnny


Abbie Neal and the Ranch Girls


Patty Lu and the Texas Sweethearts


Leon Payne and his Lone Star Buddies


Jimmy Heap and the Melody Masters


Gene O'Quin

 

Credits & Sources

  • Country Song Roundup No. 22 (Feb 1953), American Folk Publications, Inc., Derby, CT
  • Country Song Roundup No. 42 (Feb 1956), American Folk Publications, Inc., Derby, CT
  • Hillbilly-Music.com wishes to express its appreciation to David Dennard of Dragon Street Records for his contributions of photos and information about the Big "D" Jamboree where noted.