The man who invented Dolly Parton is dead from lung cancer.
Porter Wayne Wagoner was born August 12, 1927 of Irish-German heritage in the Ozarks of Missouri near the Arkansas border. In 1949, Porter visited Nashville and witnessed Hank Williams singing “Lovesick Blues” at the Grand Ole Opry.
By 1950, he was working in Vaughn’s butcher shop on the town square and singing (and reading commercials) on a 15-minute early morning show over local radio KWPM in his hometown. Executives from Springfield, Missouri’s KWTO radio station then recruited him for their station in September 1951. In 1952, Porter found himself recording his first RCA release, Williams’ “Settin’ The Woods On Fire”. 1953 brought Porter his first songwriting success with the Carl Smith hit, “Trademark”. During this time the Porter Wagoner Trio, with Don Warden (steel guitar) and Herschel “Speedy” Haworth (electric guitar) was formed and began touring. 1954 brought Porter his first top 10 hit with “Company’s Comin’”. “A Satisfied Mind” came next and went to number one for 4 weeks and stayed on the charts for over 8 months. In 1954, Porter became a part of the “Ozark Jubilee” and on February 23, 1957 he joined the “Grand Ole Opry” where he remains one of its most popular stars.
Television has also been a major part of Porter’s time in the public eye. He started the syndicated “Porter Wagoner Show” in 1960 and it remained on the air for an amazing 21 years airing in close to two hundred markets and seen by an estimated 3.5 million viewers. The “Porter Wagoner Show” was a key factor in popularizing country and gospel music across the United States. Throughout the 1960’s, there were lots of hit recordings and television work. In 1967, after seven magical years together, Pretty Miss Norma Jean left Porter’s show to get married. Early September of that year brought a fledging female singer named Dolly Parton as Norma’s replacement.