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Don Stevens' Photos - Page 1 of 3


Special thanks to Don Stevens for sharing his memories and photos with us. Don writes:

I was just a teenager with a $5.00 camera that was lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time. I hung around WLS a lot ... got to know most of the acts ... I was able to go all over the place. Went out with Phyllis Brown for a while who was a singer on WLS. Rex Allen and I got along pretty good. He even had a pair of boots made for me ... I wish I had them now.

When I was 17, I started playing on local radio (WMRO in Aurora, Illinois and WJOB in Hammond, Indiana). Met Billy Holmes (Salty Holmes' son) around 1952. Billy and I worked WLS (Barn Dance Preview) in 1953 (we were in the 1954 WLS magazine). Billy met Phyllis Brown and married her (and I was the best man). Billy and I got to work with Rex Allen for a short time. Billy and Phyllis later went to WLW (Midwestern Hayride). I made the audition with them but didn't go with them. Instead, I joined a group in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and worked at WTMJ (radio and TV).

Billy and I also worked with Patsy Montana and her daughters Beverly and Judy. Patsy was with the Prairie Ramblers on WLS in the early 1930s, and Billy's dad (Salty) was in the group. Billy's mother and Patsy were good friends.

After that, I decided to settle down (and get a day job). I was a musician, photographer and a cop. I did play music part time while working for the Police Department. And I still play a little out here in Nevada. I went to Rex's museum in Willcox, Arizona and found some of the pics I took of him in the late 1940s in his scrap book. He kept them all these years. So I sent some more of them to the museum.

Don Stevens
January, 2006




Rich Samuels' Broadcasting in Chicago: 1921-1989 website has info and images from the 1954 WLS Family Album:
Billy Lee Holmes and Don Stevens
Phyllis Brown
The 1954 Album cover has a photo of the National Barn Dance show audience at the WLS Eighth Street Theater

Scroll down toward the bottom of this WLS History webpage and there's a shot of the outside of the WLS Eighth Street Theater (including the marquee): http://www.wlshistory.com/NBD/





(Courtesy of Don Stevens)

Above from L-to-R are Leo Carrillo (Pancho), Don Stevens and Duncan Renaldo (the Cisco Kid) after a 1953 show in Milwaukee.



(Courtesy of Don Stevens)

Above from L-to-R are Sons of the Pioneers member Hugh Farr (and autograph) and Chicago musician Kelly Shank at a rodeo at the Chicago Stadium, 1947 or 1948.



(Courtesy of Don Stevens)

Above from L-to-R are Sons of the Pioneers members Hugh Farr, Pat Brady and Karl Farr at the Chicago Stadium, 1947 or 1948.



(Courtesy of Don Stevens)

Above is Gene Autry at the back door of the WLS Eighth Street Theater, late 1940s, National Barn Dance show.



(Courtesy of Don Stevens)

Above is a mid 1940s dressing room photo of Gene Autry and Don Stevens. Gene is wearing his WW2 Air Corps/Air Force uniform and teenaged Don is wearing a CAP (Civil Air Patrol) uniform.



(Courtesy of Don Stevens)

Above is a closeup of Gene Autry riding past Soldier Field, Chicago during a 1941 rodeo appearance.



(Courtesy of Don Stevens)

Above is Gene Autry getting ready to do his 1941 Chicago rodeo show.




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