Monday, December 1, 2014

Remembering Frank Page

This Time of year it’s hard not to remember a gentle man who left a legacy to be admired by all who work in the broadcast or music business where I live.  Frank Page, who's voice boomed across the airwaves of the south on radio station KWKH for more than 65 years was also the legendary voice and producer/director of the Louisiana Hayride radio broadcast in the 1940s and 50s.

A tour of the Municipal Auditorium dressing rooms where the Hayride broadcast originated reveal walls signed by those who came to perform over the years at the historic venue.  Scrawled on the walls like a an unfinished puzzle are the signatures of  some of the greats of the music business of the 1940s, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland and Xavier Cugat. In the Hayride years you find the signatures of Hank Williams, Faron Young, George Jones, Loretta Lynn, Slim Whitman and later still you find the likes of Jerry Lee Louis, Buddy Holly and Fats Domino.  In the 1960s, before rock concerts were moved to the larger Hirsch Coliseum, you will find the signatures of Joni Mitchell,  Mick Jagger, Grace Slick and Jimi Hendrix, who performed even despite death threats. 

But one performer's autograph will always remain to many a reminder of the man who we called Papa Frank. 

In 195os, at the height of Country Western music and the Louisiana Hayride popularity, 25,000 watt KWKH radio and the Hayride broadcast could be heard on a clear night as far as Denver, and on 25 smaller stations across the country and Arm Forces radio.   

On an October night in 1954, Frank Page stepped to the microphone and introduced a 19 year old young man who's voice would be heard by most of America for the first time, and began to change the course of American Music forever. That young man was Elvis Presley.

Elvis continued to performed for Frank and the Hayride for next year as his popularity grew. Months after his first appearance, Frank was responsible for first uttering the iconic phase ”Elvis Has Left the Building” after the crowd demanded more. 

The gentle and humble radio announcer was always helpful to the people of his business.  I became friends with Frank after entering the Music business myself,  and only one of many who owe much to him and his knowledge of the ropes he passed on to those here where I live.  
We lost Frank 2 years ago this Jan 9th.  

Below is a short clip of Frank Page and a recollection of Elvis Presley and his time at the Hayride. 

Rest in Peace Frank Page. You touched so many with your kindness.

Photo: Noel Memorial Library Archives - LSU Shreveport