Personalities | W. Lee O’Daniel | Cowboys & Playboys | Country

(Bandleader, 1890–1969)

W. Lee O’Daniel rose to fame as the leader and announcer of The Light Crust Doughboys. President of the band’s sponsor Burrus Mill, he disliked their music and had little respect for the musicians, but he was ambitious – and used the band as a tool for self-promotion. After being fired by Burrus, he formed his own flour company and a new band, The Hillbilly Boys. He hired Doughboys vocalist Leon Huff and convinced his own sons Pat and Mike to become musicians. O’Daniel used the band as a springboard to political office. He successfully ran for Texas governorship in 1938, then became a US Senator in 1941, maintaining the band throughout. Though his real career as a bandleader was essentially over after 1938 and he was never a musician himself, he nevertheless remains an important figure – not least for his pioneering use of country music as a political vehicle.

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Source: The Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Country Music, consultant editor Bob Allen


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