Wagoner, Porter (Wayne )
- Charles K. Wolfe
- and Travis D. Stimeling
(b West Plains, MO, Aug 12, 1927; d Nashville, TN, Oct 27, 2007). American country music singer, songwriter, and record producer. As a boy, he learned country songs of the 1920s from his mother and occasionally pretended to host the Grand Ole Opry. A performance on a local radio show in 1950 led to regular appearances on KWTO, a powerful station in nearby Springfield, and this in turn led to a regular job on Red Foley’s national Ozark Jubilee television show. He signed a recording contract with RCA Victor in 1952 and had early success with “Company’s Comin’” and “Satisfied Mind.” Gospel songs such as “What would you do?” became part of his repertory, and their success encouraged his penchant for including recitation in songs. During the 1960s, thirty-one of Wagoner’s recordings reached the charts, and, by the end of the decade, he produced his own television show, The Porter Wagoner Show, which was syndicated to more than 100 outlets and was one of the first successful independent country-music productions in that medium. After Wagoner’s duet partner, Norma Jean, retired from the show in 1967, he replaced her with Dolly Parton, who appeared with him until 1974. Together they made numerous hit recordings between 1967 and 1976. Wagoner wrote many of Parton’s songs and produced her albums; among their best-known recordings are “We’ll get ahead someday” (1968), “Yours, Love” (1969), and “Please don’t stop loving me” (1974). In the early 1980s Wagoner, still sporting sequined costumes and a distinctive coiffure, experimented with country disco and set up a female band called the Right Combination. A member of the Grand ole opry since 1954, Wagoner was a frequent host of the program and appeared regularly into his last months. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2002. In 2007 he released his final album, the critically acclaimed Wagonmaster, and toured with the rock group the White Stripes.
- D. Cantwell: “Hillbilly Deluxe,” No Depression, vol. 70/July–Aug (2007)