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Ernie Lee

February 25, 1976 OH90 121 min.


Radio and television show host. Full name: Ernie Lee Cornelison. Born April 1916. Host of the Renfro Valley Barn Dance radio program during the 1940s. Hosted the WLW Cincinnati Midwestern Hayride on radio and television during the late 1940s-early 1950s. In the late 1950s moved to Florida where he was a radio and television host for the remainder of his career.

Interview Summary

1976 February 25
(2 hours, 1 minute)
Ernie Lee discusses his career as host of various musical shows. Discussion includes his musical background; memories of listening to Jimmie Rodgers, Red Foley, and Bradley Kincaid; his first recording session with RCA executive Steve Sholes in 1940; meeting Bradley Kincaid and Pat Boone in Berea, Kentucky; his first bands; his first radio job in 1934 with Riffy B. Taylor & His All Night Serenaders on WLAP in Lexington; memories of Lonnie Glosson and Barefoot Brownie; learning cowboy songs and folksongs from his mother; his introduction to John Lair by Slim Miller and going to work on the Renfro Valley Barn Dance; other radio jobs he’s had; trying to persuade Chet Atkins to let him make more records and trying to get Chet Atkins a job; memories of Les Paul and Tommy Jackson; playing military bases in Europe in 1953; moving to Florida to pursue fishing and radio work; his friendship with Fred Rose; his success in television and lack of success selling records; recording sessions for Mercury in 1951 and MGM in 1952; his songwriting; how he came close to getting a regular job on the Prince Albert Show; Smiley Burnette writing his biggest hit, “Hominy Grits”; and his Gibson J-100 guitar.

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