He was born Orvon Grover Autry in 1907.You may know him better by his name Gene Autry. Gene Autry is one of the most personable cowboy icons of all-time. Many times when people think of a “singing cowboy” Gene Autry is the first and only name that comes to mind.
Gene Autry stated that he was born in Tioga, Texas. The Doctor involved has disputed this and said that he was not born in Tioga. Regardless of where he may have been born at Gene Autry lived in Tioga until he was in his teens and then he and his family moved to Ravia, Oklahoma.
Tioga is proud that it is the “birthplace” and childhood home of Gene Autry and the town of Tioga has even named a street after Gene Autry. Another Country music Star is Randy Travis who also currently lives in Tioga.
In 1941 the small town of Berwyn, Oklahoma was renamed Gene Autry, Oklahoma in honor of the one and only Gene Autry.
To pass the long nights on the graveyard shift at the railroad Gene Autry would sing and lay and his guitar. He soon realized that maybe he should try and do this for a living instead of his job at the railroad. With this goal in mind Gene Autry decided to head out to New York.
Gene Autry was almost able to close a record deal with Victor records, bur unfortunately he was not chosen but 2 other signing cowboys did get record deals. He was told to come back after he had more experience. A lot of wannabe singers may have given up at this point but not Gene Autry.
Gene Autry began performing on radio stations throughout Oklahoma and at that point was a regular guest who was invited to perform specifically for his singing abilities. Gene Autry developed a reputation as a top-notch yodeler. Gene Autry could and did yodel with the best of them.
In 1929 Gene Autry signed a record deal with Columbia Records. He continued to perform in the radio and even started his own radio show. Gene Autry began to sing a lot of popular songs including “Back in the Saddle Again”. Although he had great success with music that had been written by someone else and originally performed by the singers he did eventually develop his own music. In 1932 he sung a duet with another man who used to work on the railroads also and it became a hit song. In 1932 Gene Autry and Jimmy Long wrote and performed "That Silver-Haired Daddy of Mine". The song "That Silver-Haired Daddy of Mine” was the song that became the first hit song for Autry.
During this time period of the late 20’s and early 30’s Autry experimented with a wide variety of genres of music. Autry was not necessarily looking for to become a musician with any type of music possible. Autry truly enjoyed traditional Country music but he loved to play so much he also felt thrilled learning more about other genres of music.
For the rest of his career Autry spent his time split between recording songs other people had written and or performed as well as writing and singing his own material. At the time Autry retired he had written and performed well over 300 original songs that he had written primary by himself.
Gene Autry was a very successful musician but he was able to go down into the annals of stardom and everlasting glory by getting involved in motion pictures.
Autry made his film debut in the movie “In Old Santa Fe”. He was billed as the “World’s Greatest Cowboy Singer” on the posters to the movie. Although Autry was not the star of this movie, it did propel him into numerous leading roles that were to follow this film.
His first starring role came in the form of a serialized film. The film was 12 parts and was called “The Phantom Empire.” Each episode was about 20 minutes long and was usually shown in conjunction with a feature film at the local theatres.
Autry then made a lot of western movies. Although most of the films Autry starred in were B grade films, they did give him the opportunity to sing and perform guitar in each. He was truly the star of most of these movies he done. Even though his films were consider “B” movies, the Western themed “B” movies had a much higher reputation than other B movie genres that were more involved in the exploitation of a topic that had prurient interests such as a scary murder movie or movie targeted to keep kids off drugs or from having pre-marital sexual relations by hyping and exaggerating the associated benefits.
Autry went on to become the most successful singing-cowboy of all-time in the movies. His movies are still shown on television today. He has a huge fan base with children, primarily young boys, who loved to go see him in the movie theatres. Autry insured an entire generation for children to follow their dreams.
On October 2nd, 1998, Autry died at the age of 91. Gene Autry still contributes greatly to younger generations even though he is dead. Although the fan-base of Autry is much smaller than it used to be, he still has younger fans. When you see Gene Autry singing and playing guitar in the movies you can tell he is truly having fun and it helps to inspire people by realizing that we can always earn a living by dong that which we truly love. Autry is truly a positive role model and will forever be the best singing Cowboy ever.