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The Texas Rangers. Millions of people heard them on radio and saw them in movies featuring Gene Autry, Johnny Mack Brown, and others.
Kansas City’s KMBC was home to many Country and Western artists during radio’s Golden Age, but few could match the popularity and longevity of The Texas Rangers. Debuting in 1932, The Texas Rangers entertained America by radio, records, tours, motion pictures, and television before finally disbanding in the 1950s.
With few commercially released singles, The Texas Rangers were soon forgotten after their heyday except by the most devoted fans of the genre. Now, nearly six decades after the end of their performing years, The Texas Rangers: Two Decades on Radio, Film, Television, and Stage offers an in-depth history of the Texas Rangers. This book provides a rare look into the personalities and business dealings that kept the group performing before the public for more than twenty years.

Were it not for this 2014 publication, The Texas Rangers band might have been only a footnote in Western music and movie history. But thanks to detailed research by Ryan Ellet and noted historian Kevin Coffey, the band’s work has finally been thoroughly documented. They were the first band to work with Gene Autry when he launched his Melody Ranch radio show, appearing on 22 episodes of that weekly program during its first season (1940).  They also appeared in two of Gene Autry’s films, Colorado Sunset in 1939 and The Last Roundup in 1947, and in 6 Johnny Mack Brown films, two of which also featured singing cowboy Bob Baker, and one each with Judy Canova and the Hoosier Hot Shots.

They had a sound that today recalls many of those movies of the 30’s, but they were different from all the rest. They used 4-part harmony rather than 3-part Western harmony and they were based in a Kansas radio station! Their first recordings for Decca (1934-36) were made in Chicago at the time the Sons of the Pioneers began recording for the same label in Los Angeles. The B.A.C.M. label released some of their recordings in 2012.

The Rangers were talented musicians and song writers, featuring virtuoso guitarist Herb Kratoska, Tex Owens (composer of “Cattle Call”), singer Ozie Waters and accordionist Paul Sells, who subsequently worked with Gene Autry for many years. The group lasted through the War years, albeit with personnel changes. But before you get to these details and many others in the book, in the Introduction you’ll find a fascinating history of the earliest years of commercial Western music, with names you’ll recognize, e.g. Carson J. Robison, who began singing cowboy songs on radio in 1922, and some important facts and names you might not have heard before. 345 pages with Index, Bibliography, Recording Sessions, Filmography and more. Highly recommended! Contact  to order.

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