Johnny Western

Past DJ Hall of Fame Inductees
2000

 

Johnny Western (born: Two Harbors, MN Oct 28, 1934) is an accomplished actor, performer and songwriter who got his start on, and currently works in, radio. Western decided to be a singer on his fifth birthday, when his parents took him to see a 1936 Western called Guns and Guitars starring Gene Autry. For his 12th birthday, he received a guitar and a year later he joined a trio which was hired by KDHL Faribault, MN in 1949. In addition to singing, he acted as a DJ and host, introducing live and recorded Country & Western music. He earned a mention in Billboard magazine as the youngest DJ and singer on American radio. In 1953, he joined KAUS, Austin, MS and became a singing cowboy on its sister station. KMMT-TV. In 1954 he moved to Hollywood and earned a place in Gene Autry's band, replacing Johnny Bond. as a guitarist and singer. After Autry retired from performing, Western did a pilot for a series called Pony Express which, in turn, led to appearances in more than 30 other television shows (including Gunsmoke) and several feature films, including The Dalton Girls, Fort Bowie, and Gunfight at Dodge City. In 1957, a new series called Have Gun, Will Travel went into production; Western was cast in a small role in one episode, and while working on the show he composed a song about the series' hero, Paladin. "The Ballad of Paladin" was adopted as the show's closing theme. He joined Johnny Cash's band as a singer/guitarist band for six years, playing rhythm guitar on recordings such as "Johnny Yuma, The Rebel," and "The Little Drummer Boy," among many others. Western was also befriended by Marty Robbins who later participated in Western's recordings. When he wasn't on tour with Cash, Western was playing shows on his own and working with ex-members of Ernest Tubb's and Porter Wagoner's bands. During most of this period, he played 200 shows a year. In 1986, he resumed his radio career by joining KFDI Wichita. Johnny Western was inducted into the Country Music D J Hall of Fame is 2000. He is currently heard on KFDI "The Ranch" from 11:00 to 4:00 pm daily.