Fascinating Facts About the Louisiana Hayride
The Louisiana Hayride was a powerhouse of country music, not only in Louisiana, but all across the United States. It ran on Shreveport radio station KWKH from 1948 -1960, and was second only to the Grand Ole Opry as far as influence goes. When Hank Williams Sr and Elvis Presley were kicked off the Opry, they both went straight to the Hayride, which was broadcast from Shreveport Municipal Memorial Auditorium. It also later became a television show, but in it's heyday, it was a radio program only.
Know Louisiana has some fascinating facts about this true cultural treasure. Enjoy, country music fans!
- The name of the show was from the title of a 1941 book by Harnett Thomas Kane called Louisiana Hayride: The American Rehearsal for Dictatorship.
- The show was a major tourist draw, but only a small amount of the tickets sold were actually bought by Shreveport residents. The average tickets sold per show was around 3,300 ticket sales per night, but they could cram in as many as 3,800 when Elvis performed.
- Johnnie Fair Syrup, a local Shreveport product, was a major sponsor of the show, and Hank Williams Sr was their spokesperson.
- On December 15, 1956 the phrase 'Elvis has left the building' was coined to settle frenzied girls in the audience who were waiting for an encore.
- The only commercial Elvis ever recorded was on the Hayride, and it was for Southern Maid Donuts, on November 6, 1954
- The Louisiana Hayride was a direct competitor of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. Stage manager Horace Logan once said the Opry was 'the Tennessee branch of the Louisiana Hayride'.
- Between 75 to 100 musicians would appear on stageduring every Saturday night show, and the majority were union members.
- Hank Williams Jr was born in Shreveport on May 26, 1949 while his dad was performing on the Louisiana Hayride. Hank Sr and his wife Audrey were new Shreveport residents at the time.
- Once when the Hayride was on location at Louisiana Tech University, the production was almost shut down when sponsor Jax Beer was mentioned during the live broadcast. The president of the school went haywire, and threatened to call the show off because of the mention of alcohol on the Christian campus.
- Reunion shows with former cast members and musicians have been held throughout the years since the show shut down for good in 1960. It is one of the longest running radio shows in country music history.
- The nickname for the show was 'Cradle of the Stars'