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Clauser was born in Manito, Illinois, on February 23, 1911. He may have originated the term, "Western Swing," since he had used it as early as 1928. Clauser and his string band had a popular radio show in the mid-1930s on WHO in Des Moines, Iowa, where they were regulars until 1942, after which Clauser moved the band to Tulsa, Oklahoma, and began a regular weekly program on KTUL Radio. While at KTUL, Clauser added a teenager singer from Claremore, Oklahoma, named Clara Ann Fowler to his band, which was then called the Oklahoma Outlaws. Clara Ann later achieved international fame as Patti Page.
The band specialized in Western swing, playing the popular songs of the day, with Al's original songs added in. Al Clauser & His Oklahoma Outlaws appeared in an early Gene Autry film, "Rootin' Tootin' Rhythm," and recorded a dozen tracks for ARC in the 1930s. When Gene called to ask Al to bring the band to Hollywood to be in the movie, WHO sportscaster, Ronald Reagan, asked Al if he could come along on the Band Bus and Al said that would be fine. Reagan's first experience on a movie set was during the shooting of this film. In the 1970s and 80's, the office of Al's recording studio had an enormous photograph of Reagan with Reagan's thank-you note for his "start in the business" penned on it in ballpoint.
Clauser disbanded the Oklahoma Outlaws in the 1950s, but continued to work for KTUL Radio. In the 1970s, he played the role of "Uncle Zeke" on a local kids' television show in Tulsa, Oklahoma, "Uncle Zeb's Cartoon Camp," on KTUL TV, where Al was also Chief Engineer at the time.
During the 1970s and early 80s, Al had a recording studio at Prue, Oklahoma, called "Alvera Records," the name being a combination of Al and Vera, his wife's name. His assistant recording engineer was Rocky Frisco, a local musician who, in 1994, became the pianist with the J. J. Cale Band.
Al died on March 3, 1989. The surviving ARC sides, along with several radio transcriptions, were collected and released by Krazy Kat Records in 2004 under the title Hot Western Swing 1937-48.
Rootin' Tootin' Rhythm (1937 Republic)
Gene Autry and Smiley Burnette's adventures with rustlers (Monte Blue, Max Hoffman Jr. and Charlie King) are played for fun. Hal Taliaferro plays Gene's partner in the ranch. Blue is leading lady Ann Pendleton's uncle. Comedy actress Armida plays Pendleton's silly friend and is Gene's love interest. Gene's real-life buddy and songwriting partner, Frankie Marvin, who appears in most of Gene's features, has his biggest role in this film. Al Clauser and his band are the featured group (with Art Davies as a fiddler).
- Rootin' Tootin' Rhythm at the Wayback Machine (archived November 13, 2006) on Tulsa TV Memories
- Uncle Zeb's Cartoon Camp at the Wayback Machine (archived May 22, 2007) on Tulsa TV Memories
- Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture - Clauser, Al