Frank Page, the man who helped introduce Elvis Presley to the world through the country music show “Louisiana Hayride”, died on Wednesday. He was 87.
The former radio broadcaster passed away at the WK Pierremont Health Center in Shreveport after suffering a severe respiratory infection.
Frank Page spent 65 years at KWKH (now a sports station) before retiring in 2005. He remains best known for giving a teenaged Elvis one of his first ever radio gigs in 1954. The following year, Elvis made his TV debut on the television version of “Louisiana Hayride”.
Page also helped launch the careers of other country and western musicians, including Nathan “Nat” Stuckey and James “Gentleman Jim” Reeves.
Tom Pace, a longtime friend and colleague of Page, remembers his time with the broadcaster fondly. He told the Associated Press:
“He had a great sense of humor and was extremely kind and courteous. I don’t think he ever uttered a harsh word to me or anyone and he always took time to mentor anyone wanting to make broadcasting a career.”
Page started his career in radio at KGHI in Little Rock, Arkansas, while still a high school student. He served in the Second World War, and worked on Armed Forces Radio in Berlin after the war had ended.
In 1947, he became an announcer for the Louisiana Hayride, helping to bring blues to a generation of middle-class youths. Famously, one of his young listeners was a young Robert Zimmerman of Hibbings, Minnesota – or Bob Dylan, as he’s now known. Page’s show has often been cited as a key influence on the legendary musician. Reflecting on this fact, Pace says:
“His life really resonates. To think that he touched so many lives from Hank Williams Sr. to George Jones to Jimmie Davis to Johnny Cash to Loretta Lynn, when country music was at its heyday. Frank would revel in telling those stories about the live performances on the Hayride.”
A tribute piece on the KWKH site reads:
“Frank was a highly awarded radio broadcaster, having been inducted into Country Music Hall of Fame, the Louisiana Broadcasters Hall of Fame and the Wall of Fame in Shreveport. However, amidst all these accolades, Frank’s proudest accomplishment was his marriage to wife Helen. He was just that kind of man. Always smiling, forever kind and always Frank. We’ll miss you Uncle Frank. Thank you for all the incredible memories!”
Frank Page leaves behind his wife of more than 60 years, Helen Page, as well as a daughter, a brother, and a grandson.
Below, you can hear Elvis performing his song “Paralyzed” on the Louisiana Hayride show, circa 1956: