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Jim Halsey - Starmaker

Jim Halsey has guided the careers of numerous country artists and is known as the starmaker.
Jim Halsey - Starmaker

Jim Halsey - Starmaker

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Jim Halsey

Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame

Show Details

Show 1541: Jim Halsey - Starmaker
Air Date: October 11, 2015

 

Transcript

Rob McClendon: You may not know the name Jim Halsey, but ask any country singer and they probably will. Known as The Starmaker, Halsey has guided the careers of too many country artists to name, but here is just a few: Roy Clark, Waylon Jennings, Reba McEntire, Dwight Yoakum and the Oak Ridge Boys. Now, I visited with Halsey in his office in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and what I found was a virtual history lesson in the evolution of country music.

Rob McClendon: I have to ask, in this country, why do you think the critics are sometimes hard on country music, yet the Americans absolutely love it?

Jim Halsey: Well, I think maybe the critics like to be critical. And they found that people over the years maybe haven’t appreciated the depths and soul of country music of what’s really there. They’re beginning to do that now. And it’s hard to differentiate between country music and pop music and even rock music in today’s world.

Rob: And the artists now cross over.

Halsey: Right, so, well our company was one that helped them cross over. Because we started with Roy Clark and with Hank Thompson playing venues they didn’t expect country music to be. And all of a sudden people like it. And here is Roy Clark with his masterful guitar playing. I mean you know he is one of the 50 top guitar players of all time. In Rolling Stone, he was like number 37 of the top 50 all-time guitar players. So people all of a sudden realized, hey, I like that. And so we started early on in my career with our company and go places country music had never been before. And a lot of that was overseas, international. And we started in 1952 with Hank Thompson making international tours to Asia, to Japan, to Okinawa, Australia, to New Zealand. And then we decided to take country music to Europe, and we did. And we were the first to take country music to, on concert tours and festivals, to the United Kingdom, to other countries, Scandinavian countries, Germany, France, Spain, Italy.

Rob: How was country music accepted in Europe?

Halsey: Fantastic! We had already gone to the Soviet Union in 1976. That was the first country music show, country music artist ever to play the Soviet Union -- that was Roy Clark and the Oak Ridge Boys. And it set a whole new tone for art and music and diplomacy within the Soviet Union. They were there for 21 days and did 21 sold-out concerts. But it was groundbreaking for country music, because it opened up the doors of Eastern Europe. There were 17 satellite countries that belonged to that Soviet block. And eventually we played all of them.

Rob: So eventually country music may have helped change history.

Halsey: We think so, and a lot of -- when Roy came back from that 1976 tour, we got, we received a letter from every senator and every congressman in Congress at that time saying what a magnificent event that was and they thought diplomatically that helped things. Things were very difficult then. We went there and everybody in the Soviet Union thought America was going to bomb them at any moment, and it was very difficult, but Roy and the Oak Ridge Boys won those people over because you know being from Oklahoma and Tennessee, the Oak Ridge Boys are from Tennessee, they were just people to them. They treated them like people, and people treated us like people. And it was, on a person-to-person basis that kind of diplomacy works.

Rob: Now, I have my entire conversation with Mr. Halsey streaming on our website at okhorizon.com. And let me tell you, it is some true insight into what it takes to be in the music business.