October 20, 1908 to March 8, 1989
Stuart Hamblen was born on October 20th, 1908, in Kellyville, Texas, the son of a traveling Methodist preacher, and founder of the Evangelical Methodist Church, Dr. J.H. Hamblen. Stuart’s career as a Country Western Gospel singer, composer, radio-movie personality, and master storyteller all began in 1926, on radio station on WBAP, Ft Worth, TX and sister station WFAA, Dallas, TX, where he became radio broadcasting’s first singing cowboy. The next major turning point in his career happened in 1929 where he won a talent show in Abilene, Texas and with the $100 cash prize in-hand, he headed for Camden, New Jersey, to the Victor Talking Machine Company to seek his fortune. Recording four songs for the forerunner of RCA Victor, Stuart then set out for Hollywood, California, where he auditioned at KFI and went on the air as “Cowboy Joe”. Later that year, he became a member of the original “Beverly Hill Billies” as “Dave”, radio’s first spectacularly popular western singing group. Seeing the success of having a group, Stuart decided to branch out on his own and formed one of his very first groups, King Cowboy and His Woolly West Revue. His group changed, both in name and in personnel, and by 1931, and for 21 years thereafter, Stuart stayed on top of the popularity charts on the West Coast with his radio programs: “Covered Wagon Jubilee”; “Stuart Hamblen and His Lucky Stars”; and the “Cowboy Church of the Air”.
During that time, his motion picture credits included: “In Old Monterey” with Gene Autry; “The Arizona Kid” and “King of the Cowboys” with Roy Rogers; “The Plainsman and the Lady” and “The Savage Hord” with Wild Bill Elliott; “Carson City Cyclone” and “The Sombrero Kid” with Don ‘Red’ Barry; “King of the Forest Rangers” with Larry Thompson; and “Flame of the Barbary Coast” with John Wayne. In 1979 he also narrated a gospel movie, “Mountain Lady”. Stuart also was a guest star on television shows such as The Johnny Cash Show and The Jimmy Dean Show.
During his long span on radio, Stuart composed western songs… many of which are still being recorded today: “Texas Plains“; “My Mary“; “Golden River“; “Walkin’ My Fortune“; and “Ridin’ Old Paint“. Later he wrote some of his greatest song classics: “It Is No Secret” – SEE FULL STORY (note: the original manuscript of which is buried in the cornerstone of one of the Copyright Buildings of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., and which has been translated into over 50 languages around the world and was the first song to ‘cross-over’ becoming #1 in Gospel/Country/and Pop categories and starting the trend for ballad style gospel songs); “This Ole House” (which was awarded 1954 Song of the Year, and was number one song hit in seven countries at the same time, and even on Brian Setzer’s album, The Dirty Boogie, which was on the Billboard’s Top 100 for 43 weeks!); “Remember Me, I’m the One Who Loves You“; “Teach Me, Lord, To Wait“; “Until Then“; “Open Up Your Heart (and Let the Sunshine In)“; “How Big Is God“; “His Hands“; plus over 225 other songs.
In 1945, Stuart became the first man to fly a horse when he flew his race horse, EL LOBO, from Los Angeles, California, to Bay Meadows on the Flying Tiger Airlines. EL LOBO won the Burlingame Handicap … and they flew home the same day. The history of the race horse was forever changed. The Bay Meadows racing form, “War Horse” was called “The Flying Horse” the day after the race.
In 1949, Stuart and his wife Suzy attended a prayer meeting at the home of Henrietta Mears. This was one of the meetings of the Hollywood Christian Group, and on that particular night, a young man named Billy Graham was there to speak to the group. Suzy made sure they were there early, and she and Henrietta disappeared into the kitchen, leaving Stuart and Billy alone. The two men hit it off right away, and Stuart asked Billy if he would like to come on his radio show to promote his tent crusade. Billy did show up at the radio station, and after the radio interview, Stuart urged his listeners to go down to the tent to hear more of Billy, and ended by stating “Make sure you all come, cause I’ll be there too!” Well, Suzy wasn’t going to let those words ring untrue. That evening, as Stuart started to settle in for the night, Suzy appeared, all ready to go out the door. She looked at Stuart and said, “You ready to go? You told everyone that you were going to be there. You don’t want to disappoint your fans!” So, Stuart went and sat front row center. Night after night, Stuart was there, front row center, until he could take it no more. What a lot of people don’t know, is that Stuart was the son of Dr. James Henry Hamblen, an itinerant Methodist circuit preacher and the founder of the Evangelical Methodist Church denomination, and conviction was hitting Stuart hard. Knowing that the tent crusade was scheduled to end in a couple of days, Stuart decided to escape; packed up his hound dogs, and headed our for a hunting trip.
In the early ’50’s, Stuart’s radio show was syndicated nationwide. Back then, the commercials were performed by the radio host during the show. The syndicate sponsors came to Stuart to let him know that the commercial he was to promote was for alcohol products. Stuart refused, due to the simple fact of his recent conversion to Christianity, (with Billy Graham), and his public renunciation of his alcoholic ways. He was not a man to go back on his word. The sponsors told him they would pull the plug on his show if he refused to do the commercial, and as a man of his word, he didn’t. So, the syndicate pulled their sponsorship, and in the last several shows, Stuart used them to let his nationwide-listening audience know why he would be leaving the air. Hearing this, in 1952, the Prohibition Party asked Stuart to run for the President of the United States on their ticket. Stuart was the type of man that if it was something new, it was surely an adventure! He had never done that before, and so he did! When the first returns came in he was actually ahead! When the final votes were counted, he had set a new record for votes for the Prohibition ticket, running 4th to Dwight Eisenhower (see Election Results).
Married to his wife, Suzy, for over 55 years, Stuart lived with her on their horse ranch in Santa Clarita (Los Angeles), California, where he produced his weekly nationally syndicated “Cowboy Church of the Air” program. They also bred Peruvian Paso Horses, and their stallion, *AEV Oro Negro+, was 3 times U.S. National Champion of Champions.
Stuart Hamblen died on March 8, 1989. Besides his wife, Suzy, he leaves two daughters, Veeva and Lisa Obee, and 10 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren. His beloved wife Suzy, followed him on June 2, 2008 at the age of 101.
“When you see me fall asleep, say amen but don’t you weep. I’ve got so many million years that I can’t count them.” -Stuart Hamblen
Stuart Hamblen Achievements:
- 1926 – Became radio broadcasting’s first singing cowboy, WBAP in Ft Worth, TX
- 1929 – Won a $100 talent contest, Abilene, TX
- 1929 – Went on the radio as “Cowboy Joe”, KFI, Hollywood, CA
- 1929 – Joined Beverly Hill Billies as “Dave”
- 1931 to 1952 – Had the #1 radio program in the West with King Cowboy and His Woolly West Revue, Stuart Hamblen’s Covered Wagon Jubilee, Stuart Hamblen and His Luck Stars, and the Cowboy Church of the Air
- 1933 – Married Veeva Ellen Daniels, who he named “My Suzy” (originally, and in jest, he named her Suzy Ashenfelder on a radio show, and it stuck)
- 1934 – First artist to be signed by the newly formed Decca Records
- 1935 – Became a father with Veeva Suzanne
- 1938 – Became a father again with Lisa Obee Jane
- 1938 – Ran for Congress, 11th District
- 1945 – First man to fly a horse by plane (Flying Tigers Lines)
- 1947 – 4th leading trainer at Santa Anita Race Track (with only his own horses)
- 1949 – Accepted Christ as his Savior at the very first Billy Graham Tent Crusade, Los Angeles, CA
- 1950 – Wrote “It Is No Secret” which became the first song to cross from sacred to secular charts and reach Top 10 in both. (Translated into over 90+ languages)
- 1952 – Ran for President of the United States on Prohibition Party ticket
- 1954 – Billboard’s Song of the Year: “This Ole House” (#1 song in 7 different countries at the same time)
- 1970 – Inducted into the Nashville Songwriter’s Hall of Fame
- 1971 – Returned to radio with weekly, nationally syndicated “Cowboy Church of the Air”
- 1972 – Academy of Country and Western Music’s prestigious Pioneer Award for being the first singing Country and Western Cowboy in the history of broadcasting
- 1976 – The Los Angeles City Council proclaimed February 13, 1976 as “Stuart Hamblen Day”
- 1976 – Received a Star on the Hollywood Boulevard Walk of Fame
- 1978 – The Gene Autry Award for the enrichment of our western musical heritage
- 1979 to 1989 – Rode in the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade with his family on their Peruvian Paso Horses
- 1988 – Received a Golden Boot Award for his work in movies
- 1994 – Inducted into the Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame
- 1999 – Inducted into the Western Music Association’s Hall of Fame
- 2001 – Inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame
- 2001 – International Country Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame Award