While watching America’s Got Talent Monday night three men called the “Texas Tenors” brought the house down with their performance. They had the longest ovation of the night. I told my wife, “They are going to win one of the two spots to move forward in the show.” When the votes from every state came in, they did not make the top three.
I remember when Horace Heidt had a radio, and later a television talent show in the early 1950’s. The winners were chosen by a VU meter which measured the sound. The ones with the loudest ovation won.
I remember the announcer saying, “Horace Heidt for Lucky Strike.” For those too young to know, Lucky Strike was a brand of cigarette and Horace Heidt was an American pianist, big band leader, and radio and television personality.
He brought his talent show to the Edwards Gym in Corbin. The only person I can remember performing was Johnny Ray. He had a number one hit on the Billboard charts called “Cry.”
During that time period big bands came to this area. They performed for many years at the Mountain Laurel Festival in Pineville.
Those days of bus loads of musicians ceased with the popularity of television and the costs involved. As Carol Burnett said recently, a show like hers would not be possible today because it would cost too much.
The big names that come to town now have fewer performers and a bigger stage, plus a much larger audience.
It was really a “big deal” to have a show like Horace Heidt come to your small town. He traveled all across the United States looking for talent. Among those he found were Al Hirt, Johnny Carson, Art Carney, and Gordon McRae.
The Heidt band’s recordings were highly successful, with “Gone with the Wind” going to No. 1 in 1937 and “Ti-Pi-Tin” to No. 1 in 1938. In 1939, “The Man with the Mandolin” ranked No. 2 on the charts. Heidt has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1631 Vine Street.