Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Red Sovine

Woodrow Wilson "Red" Sovine was born in 1918, in Charleston, West Virginia and is known today as an early singer of country music. He sang about pick up trucks, barns and loyal dogs, the epitome of country music. His biggest single was his 1976 number one hit "Teddy Bear".

As a teenager he joined the WCHS-AM "Old farm Hour." It aired out of Charleston every Friday night. His first venture into music was with his childhood friend Johnnie Bailes, with whom he performed as "Smiley and Red, the Singing Sailors" in the country music revue Jim Pike's Carolina Tar Heels on WWVA-AM in Wheeling, WV. Johnnie Bailes left to perform as part of The Bailes Brothers. Sovine formed The Echo Valley Boys and went on the road. More here.

After a year of performing in West Virginia, Sovine moved to Louisiana. There he got a morning show on KWKH-AM in Shreveport. But he also guested on nationally famous "Louisiana Hayride". He met Hank Williams there, and it was Hank who pointed him at gig on WFSA-AM in Montgomery, Alabama. But he came back to KWKH later that year to replace Hank Williams as host. Williams had just moved over to host the Grand Ol' Oprey on WSM in Nashville.

In 1949 he signed a deal with MCA and cut the first of his 28 singles with that label forging his own national career. In 1954 he signed a deal with Decca. He recorded at least 50 sides with them during the 5-year deal. In the 1960s he started cutting cheesey songs about trucking and found a 3rd wind in his career. He died in 1980 of a heart attack while driving his own tour van. He was 62.