Gene Autry was King of the Cowboys at Republic Pictures in Hollywood until he enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces during World War II. Gene was born Orvon Grover Autry on St. Michaelmas Day, September 29th, 1907, near Tioga, Texas . In the 1920s his parents moved to Ravia, Oklahoma, where Gene worked on his father’s ranch while at school. After leaving high school in 1925, Gene worked as a telegrapher for the St. Louis-San Fransisco Railway. In the evening he sang to his guitar at local dances and over the local radio station in Tulsa. The famous humorist, Will Rogers, heard Gene singing on the night shift, and encouraged him to turn professional.
Gene travelled to New York in the Fall of 1925 to audition for Victor Records who advised him to keep singing on the radio to gain experience. On October 9th that year Gene and his buddy, Jimmy Long, recorded two country songs for RCA Victor. However, it was with Columbia Records that Gene signed a contract in 1929. He sang on the Chicago WLS-AM radio show, “National Barn Dance” and his own show where he met singer-accordionist, Smiley Burnette. Gene and Jimmy Long together with Smiley Burnette formed The Gene Autry Trio. The trio and Gene performing solo were to achieve great musical success, rarely out of the music charts during the 1930s.