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date: 20 August 2019

Lair, John Lee locked

  • Michael Ann Williams


(b Livingston, KY, July 1, 1894, d Lexington, KY, Nov 12, 1985). American country music entrepreneur. He grew up in Rockcastle County, Kentucky, near the Renfro Creek, which gave its name to the mythical community which Lair would make famous. Lair pursued a career in insurance in Chicago, where he became familiar with radio station WLS and its pioneering National barn dance. By the late 1920s, Lair began seeking out talent for WLS. His first success came with the Cumberland Ridge Runners, a group that eventually included Red Foley, who went on to country music stardom. During his WLS years, Lair also created acts for three of the most popular female country music radio stars of the era: Linda Parker, LuLu Belle, and Lily May Ledford. As music librarian for WLS, Lair was instrumental in helping to promote barn dance entertainment as “folk” rather than “hillbilly” music. An avid collector of music, Lair copyrighted a number of variants of traditional pieces, but also composed original music, including his best known “Take me back to Renfro Valley.”...

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