October 28, 1934 |
Two Harbors, Lake County
|Occupations||Singer-songwriter, actor, radio show host (current)|
|Associated acts||Gene Autry, Johnny Cash|
Johnny Western (born October 28, 1934) is an American country singer-songwriter, musician, actor, and radio show host. He is a member of the Western Music Association Hall of Fame and the Country Music Disc Jockey Hall of Fame.
According to a high school friend, Elaine Alice Tollefson who also attended Northfield High School, his last name was actually Westerlin or Westerlind, which he changed to "Western" for his singing career. His father was an instructor and officer in several Civilian Conservation Corps camps, where Western spent some his earlier years. He also lived on Indian reservations along the Canada–United States border.
When he was five years old, Western's parents took him to see the western film Guns and Guitars, which starred the actor/singer Gene Autry. The young boy decided he wanted to be a singing cowboy. At the age of twelve, he received a guitar. Within a year, he was performing professionally.
His professional career began as a young teenager, singing and playing rhythm guitar with a collegiate singing trio. He got a job on radio at the age of thirteen, a feat publicized in Billboard as the youngest disc jockey and singer on American radio. At age sixteen, Western began performing with the Sons of the Pioneers.
He performed with Gene Autry and was a part of the Johnny Cash road show from 1958 until 1997. He wrote and performed the theme song "The Ballad of Paladin" for the CBS television program Have Gun – Will Travel, with Richard Boone. In collaboration with Johnny Cash, he re-wrote the lyrics of NBC's Bonanza and the theme song, "The Rebel - Johnny Yuma", from the ABC series The Rebel, starring Nick Adams.
|1962||Have Gun - Will Travel||Columbia|
|1980||Johnny Western||JRC Records|
|1981||The Gunfighter||Bear Family|
|1984||Sings 20 Great Classics & Legends||Americana Records|
|1989||Gunfight at O.K. Corral [re-issue of his 1984 album]||Bear Family|
|1993||Heroes and Cowboys [3-CD career retrospective]||Bear Family|
|2008||Country and Johnny Western [contains material from his Columbia & House of Cash catalog]||Black Knight|
|1998||The Ballad of Palindrome||Riders in the Sky||A Great Big Western Howdy!|
|2007||Pancho and Lefty||Rex Allen, Jr.||The New West|
Western has appeared in several television programs, including the westerns, Have Gun - Will Travel, Tales of Wells Fargo, Pony Express (in the 1960 episode "The Story of Julesburg"), and Boots and Saddles. He has had roles in several movies including The Night Rider, Fort Bowie, and The Dalton Girls.
In February 1986, Western returned to radio with a daily country music show on KFDI (1070 AM, later KFTI) a country music station calling itself "The Radio Ranch" in Wichita, Kansas. The station and sister station KFDI-FM were sold to Journal Broadcast Group in July 1999. In early April 2010, Johnny announced that he would retire from broadcasting. His last day on the air was Saturday, April 10, 2010. Just over a month and a half later the station would switch to an oldies format.
The Johnny Western Theatre
The Johnny Western Theatre in Wild West World, a theme park located in Park City, Kansas near Wichita, had concerts scheduled to begin in October 2007. However, the park declared bankruptcy in July 2007. Western was never able to perform in his namesake theater, which now sits among the ruins of the Wild West World amusement park, just outside Wichita, Kansas.
Awards and honors
- TV Theme Hall of Fame (1993)
- Country Music Disc Jockey Hall of Fame (2000)
- Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame (2000)
- Western Music Association Hall of Fame (2001)
- Wichita Professional Broadcasters Hall of Fame (2002)
- Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame (2004)
- Kansas Western Swing Hall of Fame (2004)
- "Country Music & Western Heroes". KFDI. Archived from the original on 2007-12-31. Retrieved 2008-01-05.
- "Artists: Biography, Johnny Western". Retrieved 2008-01-04.
- "Johnny Western, Cowboy Entertainer". Boot Hill Museum & Front Street. Archived from the original on 2008-01-23. Retrieved 2008-01-04.
- "Albums". Country Music Television, Inc. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
- "Johnny Western". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved 2008-01-04.
- "The Ranch Hands". KFDI. Archived from the original on 2007-12-01. Retrieved 2008-01-05.
- "Johnny Western". Retrieved 2008-01-04.
- "AM 1070 Morning Newsradio Debuts Monday". Journal Broadcast Group. 2008-01-14. Retrieved 2008-02-02.
- Arthur Levine. "Wild West World Theme Park". About.com. Retrieved 2008-02-09.