Classic Country Memories - The Porter Wagoner show
When you think of individual country artists who had TV shows, Porter Wagoner's name has to come to mind rather quickly. Porter's shows were filmed from 1960 to 1980. The early shows were filmed in black and white, and the later shows were filmed IN COLOR! The last few seasons were filmed at Opryland. Though Porter's show was always entertaining, the prime years of the show were between 1967 and 1974, and not just because those were the years when Dolly Parton was on the show. The entire cast, from the Wagonmasters to announcer Don Howser, as well as funny man Speck Rhodes, was mostly constant during those years and the camaraderie made for a (mostly) well-oiled machine. Of course, when you watch the shows now, you can see that mistakes were made from time to time (most of the time by Porter, who'd occasionally forget lyrics. As a performer myself, I can TOTALLY RELATE.) but the way they were handled with a laugh and "Oops!" made the show that much more lovable.
The Wagonmasters - Porter's band - were mostly accomplished performers in their own right. Electric banjo and guitar picker Buck Trent performed with him for many years, and the happy fiddlin' man Mack Magaha performed with him for even more years. Buck went on to become a Hee Haw cast member, and since then has had a successful run in Branson, MO. Mack, who played with Reno & Smiley before joining The Wagonmasters, suffered a stroke in the 1990's and passed away on August 15, 2003.
Announcer Don Howser was the voice of the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway (describing the on-track antics of Marty Robbins, no doubt), and had been a radio announcer and the host/announcer of other shows before The Porter Wagoner Show. He passed away on September 19, 2002.
"Purty Miss Norma Jean" was a fan favorite who left the show and raised her daughter. After Dolly, several other female singers came along who were all fine, but none of them had the audience's affection like Dolly Parton. As everyone knows, she's gone on to become one of the most successful country artists in history. For a time, Mel Tillis was a regular on the show.
And the guests! Everyone who was anyone (except maybe some of the stars who had their own shows) performed on Porter's show back in the day. Faron Young, Tex Ritter, Jack Greene, Hank Williams Jr., Billy Walker, Charlie Walker, Webb Pierce, Stonewall Jackson, the Oak Ridge Boys, Roy Clark, Lonzo & Oscar, Dottie West...the list goes on and on.
Of course, the show's story would be sadly incomplete if we didn't include some information about Porter Wagoner, the star of the show!
Porter's website, porterwagoner.net, does a pretty good job of telling his story. Evidently, however, this site has not been updated in some time because it does not mention the fact that Porter passed away on October 28, 2007 in Nashville and is buried there. The Country Music Hall of Fame's member page about him is also quite helpful.
You can also buy some of his CD's on that site. At one time you could purchase show tapes also, but I do not see them listed on there now. You can watch "The Porter Wagoner Show" on RFD-TV.
I apologize for not having more information about the show on this site. I plan to add more information soon.
Copyright 2006-2009, Marisa Bush & Classic Country Memories
last updated 02/10/2009