Singing Cowboy and Early-Adopter, Movie Idol and Media Mogul
Posted by Stephen Lewis on June 8, 2007
Singing cowboy Gene Autry was an icon of the early years of commercial country music, 1930’s and 40’s Hollywood, and the so-called “golden ages” of radio and of television. But Autry was also an entrepreneur with a keen eye for new media, even before their business models became clear. An early investor in television broadcasting, what would Autry have made of the internet? For Autry’s life story, interspersed with excerpts from his songs and a film soundtrack lament for his dying horse “Champion,” go to the May 1st edition of WNYC New York’s Soundcheck. For those interested in the roots of R&B and rock-and-roll, I’d also recommend recent Soundcheck broadcasts on Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the cross-over gospel and R&B vocal and electric guitar great who inspired Elvis Presley, and Doc Pomus, a New York Jewish kid invalided with polio who was a popular blues musician amongst black audiences in Brooklyn during the 1940s and who went on to become one of the famed pop music writers at the Brill building on Broadway in the early-1960s. Finally, to bring us back full circle to the realm of tech innovation, do listen to Sara Fishko’s recent broadcast about the Theremin, the Science-Fiction-like musical instrument that was a creation of 1920s Soviet science and later gave mid-twentieth-century American Sci-Fi movies their characteristically Sci-Fi sound.