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
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.
Hank the Drifter his Drifting Hillbillies
Joe Paul Nichols