Enjoy Red Steagall’s Cowboy Corner Radio Show? Learn more about Texan
Red Steagall’s longtime radio show “Cowboy Corner” is a Saturday morning feature on KSST Sulfur Springs. His stories, poems and songs entertained listeners and made him “like a member of the family” for many local homes. In December 2020, Red, 80, fell victim to COVID-19, and especially during Christmas week, was struggling to recover. Thanks to Facebook, we found out about his plight, and through prayers, we felt that the KSST family of listeners around the world would love to learn more about this native Texan and his rise in popularity in the Western genre. If you’re already a friend of Red, you know he’s been disappointed but never defeated. Read more about the personal journey of this extraordinary artist here.
Red Steagall’s entertainment career spanned over 45 years and spanned the globe, from Australia to the Middle East, South America and the Far East. He has performed for heads of state, including a special evening for President Reagan at the White House in 1983, as well as three overseas tours to the Middle East, the Far East, Europe, Australia and in South America. As a native Texan, Red Steagall pursued a career in agricultural chemistry after earning a degree in Animal Science and Agronomy from West Texas A&M University. He then spent eight years as a music industry executive in Hollywood, California and has spent the past thirty-seven years as a recording artist, songwriter, and TV and movie personality. He currently operates ranches outside of Fort Worth, Texas where in addition to his entertainment business; he is involved in many activities related to the horse.
Born in 1938 in Gainesville, Texas, which is now a country rich in horses, Russell Don Steagall sought out the cowboy lifestyle and began riding bulls as a teenager. Plans for his immediate future were derailed when in September 1964, at the age of 15, he was struck down by the polio virus. On the day of the first football game of his freshman year at Phillips High School, Red was not on the pitch. He was in the hospital. Her parents had divorced earlier that summer, leaving Red’s mother, Ruth, with five children and one on the way. One night, Red had a fever, chills, and excruciating pain in his head. At the hospital, she was diagnosed with polio. Almost immediately, the virus significantly affected the muscles in her left arm and she was told the disease would spread to her left leg. Four days after the diagnosis, Ruth gave birth to Red’s younger brother, and without his mother nearby, he felt particularly lonely. Because no private bed was available for Red at the hospital, he was placed on a bed in a large room where iron lungs lined the walls. These machines breathed polio victims into paralyzed chest muscles. Like embryos in metal dies, they struggled to breathe, and the haunting sound of their breathing and the pumping sound of iron cylinders have stuck with Red to this day. That night at the hospital, Red made a promise to God. âIf you let me go through this,â he said, âI’ll never complain about anything for the rest of my life.
When Red came home with his limp arm, two things happened. The coaches put him in the hot tub at the sports complex every day, and his mother bought him a used mandolin for $ 10. After his daily treatments in the hot tub, Red rode his bike four miles to take mandolin lessons, focusing on one finger at a time to rebuild his hand strength. When he was able to play a two or three finger chord, his mother helped him buy a guitar as a graduation gift. That year, the Phillips High School Blackhawks won the State Championship without Red on the team. As he could no longer play football, he also had to give up his college scholarship to Texas A and Mr. Heisman Trophy winner during the years when Red would have been a Texas Aggie. Yet, living with his polio diagnosis, he may have been disappointed but never desperate. He realized his dreams had to change, but can’t remember thinking, “Why did this thing happen to me?” Instead, he remembers thinking, “Well, that happened to me.” Now I have to do something about it. Red saw that he was no longer like everyone else. He couldn’t play football. He couldn’t pole vault. He couldn’t do the things he enjoyed the most, but he could still have a good life. And he could still ride bulls if he tied his left arm to his body to avoid being disqualified for touching the bull!
Fortunately, the wasting disease never spread to his leg. Maybe it was all the hours in the hot tub and all the hours biking to mandolin lessons. Like many, Russell Don Steagall could not choose his situation. During the defining years of his life, he could only choose his answer. What he did was make a career of throwing his limp left arm over the neck of his guitar and grabbing the strings with his fingers. Today, the original second-hand mandolin that helped make it all possible is on display at the High Plains Western Heritage Center in Spearfish, SD Red loaned it to the museum when they honored it with the title of Cow Poet. boy of the year. And that’s just one of the many honors, accolades, and opportunities that have blessed Red’s life as a Western genre artist.
âMy mother made me believe. I’ve learned to adapt and I think that’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned from polio, âRed said. âNothing really scares me because I know there is a way around the problem. Mom wanted me to do whatever I wanted, and she made me believe I could. She made me believe that I was exceptional and that I had certain talents that no one else had. She taught us all that our whole lifeâ¦. There is one thing that I still do today. If I had to make a decision, I was like, “What would mom think? Arm would probably mean hurting or killing someone, and getting a degree in animal science. To fund his college education, he played local dances and clubs with the guitar his mother helped him buy for graduation. His first hit song was written when his roommate and writing partner Don Lanier chose a new tune for Red on guitar, as he often did. Within minutes, the two roommates had the lyrics to this melody in Donnie’s heads and “Here We Go Again” was born. This song “Here We Go Again” was the Red’s biggest commercial success as a songwriter.After Ray Charles’ hit record in 1967, Nancy Sinatra recorded a single of the song and made the Top 40. Dean Martin made a single the year next and entered the Top 10. Then Glen Campbell got it. released in an album, and the snowball song, taking a life of its own. âHere We Go Againâ has been recorded 63 times.
Steagall was signed to Dot Records in 1968, but moved to Capitol, where he had his first country hit, “Party Dolls and Wine”. Soon after, he had a Top 20 country hit with âSomewhere My Loveâ. He moved to Nashville in 1973 and followed it up with two more hits, “True Love” and “If You’ve Got the Time”. Steagall became a regular guest at rodeos, and while performing at the National Rodeo Finals in Oklahoma City in 1974, he spotted a young singer named Reba McEntire appearing with her family. He asked her to record a demo and made sure it was heard by anyone who could do McEntire good. As a result, she signed a recording contract when she was still a teenager. âI thought she had the purest voice I had ever heard,â Red said. âShe had total control and raw emotion. She was 19 and hadn’t been influenced by anything other than herself.
Steagall’s recording career continued, including a Top 15 single with “Lone Star Beer and Bob Wills Music” in 1976. His recording of “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” made the charts and in the late 1970s he started to move. towards western music as well as country. In 1979 and 1980 he decided to leave Nashville and, with his wife Gail, moved to his ranch near Fort Worth. Steagall had made numerous appearances on syndicated TV shows such as Hee Haw and Nashville on the Road, spent four years as host of the Rodeo TV National Finals, was host of the Winston Pro Tour on ESPN for the 1985 season and co-hosted the College National Finals Rodeo for the Freedom Sports Network from 1988 to 1991. He also hosted the Western Theater on America One Television. Steagall played a major role in the film Benji the Hunted, released in the summer of 1987. He also appeared in the films Dark Before Dawn and Abilene. He produced the movie Big Bad John, starring Jimmy Dean, Jack Elam, Ned Beatty and Bo Hopkins, and directed by Burt Kennedy. Steagall is a Trustee of the Pro Rodeo Hall of Champions, Honorary Member of the Cowboy Artists of America, and past Chairman of the Academy of Country Music. Today, his most recognizable role is that of the first Western American historian. Steagall currently hosts an hour-long syndicated radio show, Cowboy Corner, on 170 stations in 43 states. Cowboy Corner celebrates the American West way of life through the poems, songs and stories of the American cowboy. In 2010, In the Bunkhouse with Red Steagall began airing on the RFD-TV network; As of 2017, Steagall now hosts Red Steagall is Somewhere West of Wall Street for the same channel. His simple, friendly manners and considerable musical talents make him a favorite of rural America.
Red’s accomplishments in Western literature are perhaps his most cherished legacy. 1991, the Texas Legislature elected Steagall the Official Cowboy Poet of Texas. Soon after, he began recording for the Warner Western label, releasing Born to This Land in 1993. Steagall released Faith and Values ââin 1995, Dear Mama, I’m a Cowboy in 1997, and Love of the West in 1999. Wagon Tracks appeared in 2002 from Shanachie Records, followed by The Wind the Wire and the Rail by Wildcatter Records in 2006.