In 1924, when Lawrence Welk was just starting out, he was in a group with Lew Childre called the Alabama Cotton Pickers. Lew Childre was from Opp, Alabama and went on to have a nice country career. Childre became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1945, and there are clips on YouTube of Lew’s music, comedy, and tap-dancing.
In 1945, Lawrence Welk and Red Foley released a pair of songs, “Shame On You” (#1 on the country chart) and “At Mail Call Today” (#3 on the country chart). In 1960, Lawrence Welk had a #21 pop hit with a cover of Floyd Cramer’s “Last Date.”
In response to television’s “rural purge,” Roy Clark sang “The Lawrence Welk-Hee Haw Counter-Revolution Polka.” The song was a #9 country hit in 1972.
Many of the regulars on the Lawrence Welk Show were known for country music. Lynn Anderson was a regular country singer on the show in 1967-68. Clay Hart joined in 1969 and was nominated for a Grammy for Male Country Vocal Performance. His wife Sally Flynn was also on the show, and after leaving the show, Clay and Sally continued as a country duo. Ava Barber and Jim Turner are country singers and often sang duets on the show Ava also had a song hit #13 on the country chart. Jim Turner went on to sing Christian music and was nominated for a Dove Award. Guy and Ralna released country albums. Buddy Merrill made albums like “Country Capers” and “Steel Guitar Country.” Neil Levang was nominated for a CMA award and performed on the ACM awards. JoAnn Castle was known as the “Queen of the Honky Tonk Piano.” Accordion great Myron Floren made a country-inspired album in 1977, “The Nashville Sessions.” As a fun trivia bit, he also released a disco polka album in 1977. The Lennon Sisters released the album “Pop Country” in 1969. They still perform in Branson and have made appearances on shows like Country’s Family Reunion. Alvino Rey played pedal steel on the Lawrence Welk Show in 1959-60. As you might recall, he was known for developing the earliest version of the “talking steel guitar.” The site Stars of the Lawrence Welk Show has over 100 biographies of people who were on the show, which had over a thousand episodes.
The Lawrence Welk Show Fans YouTube Channel frequently uploads clips from the show, and country guests show up pretty often. In the last week alone, the channel uploaded clips from Country Music Hall Of Fame members Barbara Mandrell, The Jordanaires, and Floyd Cramer. In 1958, Johnny Cash appeared on the Lawrence Welk Show, but I haven’t found a clip of that. There is a clip of Glen Campbell on the show, and Lawrence Welk recorded covers of a couple of Glen Campbell’s biggest hits. Since Connie Smith recently released an album (that deserves a whole lot more attention than it has received), here’s a 1966 clip of Connie Smith on the Lawrence Welk Show.
Charley Pride appeared on the Lawrence Welk Show a number of times, and was featured on Lawrence Welk-produced recordings for the US Navy.
Some other country artists who appeared on the Lawrence Welk Show were Jimmy Wakely, Jim Reeves, Leon McAuliffe, Molly Bee, Connie Eaton, and Minnie Pearl.
I’ll close today’s post with some episodes of interest: Country and Western themed episode of the Lawrence Welk Show from 1968.