At that very young age, Wayne was already singing and was a master harmonica player, with the ambition, imagination and belief in God, he was certain that absolutely nothing was impossible. Wayne would return home often and pick up odd jobs, but soon take the road again. In those days he either had to walk or hitchhike everywhere. Wayne said it was not scary to hitchhike, because people would stop and give him a ride or they would offer food and a place to spend the night.

The Wilburns & Wayne Raney

Lester Wilburn, Jeraldine Wilburn & Wayne, 1945

In 1937 age 16, Wayne got a job in St. Louis, Missouri on KWK Radio Station. He met Lonnie Glosson (photo) and in 1938 they became partners to play in Little Rock, Arkansas. He worked also with the Stuart Hamblin Show on KFWB from Warner Brothers Studio in Hollywood, doing two movie (shorts). In 1939, Wayne made his way back to St. Louis and got a job with the Cousin Emmy show on KMOX Radio Station. In 1939, he worked on the Brush Creek Follies on KMBC Radio in Kansas City. In the early part of the 1940’s, Wayne and the Wilburn brothers worked live stage shows through Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois and Tennessee.

In 1941, he moved to Covington, near Cincinnati, Ohio, to work on station WCKY. This same year, Wayne was married with Loys Southerland and they had three children: Wanda, Zyndall and Norma Jean. Life in Cincinnati led to Raney meeting the Delmores again in the middle of 1946. He offered his cooperation which was accepted by the Brothers who wanted to expand their group at this time. They first recorded together around September 1946. Wayne played on 14 pieces including the marvelous "Freight Train boogie" where his harmonica roared like a locomotive climbing the Appalachian slopes. He sang one superb gospel number, "The Wrath of God" and one premonitory blues title "Harmonica Blues".

Norman & Maxine Luna, Wayne Raney

Wayne with Norman & Maxine Luna, KWEM, West Memphis, Arkansas, circa 1946

Wayne Raney, 1947

Wayne in 1947

Wayne Raney forties

Wayne in the forties

Wayne Raney, King card

King publicity card

Wayne Raney, King card

Other edition

Wayne Raney Billboard

Billboard October 15, 1949

Wayne Raney's song book

Published circa 1949 by Arkansas Publishing Company, West Memphis

His first own recording was "Fox Chase", an instrumental. The following year, his first hits did appear: "Lost John Boogie" and "Jack and Jill Boogie". An unique fact was that, with his friend Lonnie Glosson, he sold 5 millions of harmonicas over station XERF, in a 4 years period, making it a very popular instrument. That record still stands today as the largest radio sales ever. "Wayne could have sold snowballs to Eskimos", that's what some people did say.

In 1949, his big hit was "Why Don't You Haul Off and Love Me" with backing by Lonnie Glosson on french harp 2 and the Delmores on guitars. This song will be number one on the country charts. Wayne still worked as a sideman with the Delmores until Rabon's death but also helped as a vocalist on superb three-voice choirs.

Wayne Raney, Rose Maddox

Picture from the collection of the late Rose Maddox, late 1940s

Partition de Wayne Raney

Published 1949 by Lois Music Publishing Co.

Wayne Raney' family

The Raney Family in 1949 after “Why Don’t You Haul Off And Love Me” hit #1 in the charts

Wayne Raney Record Roundup

King Records magazine, February 15, 1949

In the early 50's, Wayne started recording and working as a single attraction on The Grand Ole Opry and was booked by A.V. Bamford out of Nashville. He was touring mostly with Hank Williams, Ernest Tubb, Lefty Frizzell, Minnie Pearl, Rod Brasfield and Lonzo et Oscar. The tour took them across the United States from Albuquerque to Memphis. Wayne was asked to join the Grand Ole Opry regular show, but he will refuse. He later said: “That may have been a mistake”.

Wayne Raney Schaeffer Studio

Wayne Raney, Schaeffer Studio, Hollywood, California, 1950 Dedicated to the author of the site

Wayne Raney in Nashville

Wayne and unidentified band in Nashville, circa 1950

Lonnie & Wayne Raney Guitar Self-Teaching Course

Published by Wm. J. Smith Music Co., 1950

Wayne Raney, Ernest Tubb

On tour with Ernest Tubb, 1950

Wayne Raney, Lefty Frizzell, Bert Prince

Wayne, Lefty Frizzell and Bert Prince on tour in Toronto, Canada, early 1950s

Wayne Raney, Mercer Brothers

Doyle Stricklin, the Mercer Brothers (which were musically the closest to the Delmore Brothers) & Wayne as they were featured on the Louisiana Hayride, circa 1950

Wayne Raney's Song Folio

Published circa 1951 by Lois Music Publishing Co.

Wayne Raney's ad

Country Song Roundup ad, 1953

Wayne Raney, publicité Country Song Roundup

Country Song Roundup ad, 1951

Wayne Raney's clippart
Wayne Raney's clippart

He also played live shows on the Louisiana Hayride and continued to record for King until 1955, then for Decca, Starday and Columbia where he cut some tracks with Lefty Frizzell. In 1955 he hosted his own TV show from KRCG in Jefferson City, Missouri, and later on, Wayne worked as a single act on the television show, The California Hayride, out of Stockton, California.

Wayne Raney advertisement Grand Ole Opry

Ad The El Paso Herald Post (Texas) 1952-11-13

Wayne Raney advertisement Clover Club

Ad The Amarillo Daily News (Texas) 1953-03-14

Wayne Raney advertisement western

Ad The Bakersfield Californian (California) 1953-03-21

Wayne Raney advertisement In person

Ad The Daily Ardmoreite (Oklahoma) 1953-07-14

Wayne Raney advertisement tonight

Ad The Bakersfield Californian (California) 1953-09-12

Wayne Raney, Lefty Frizzell, Joe Knight, Jimmy Rollins

Wayne Raney, Lefty Frizzell, Joe Knight, Jimmy Rollins November 1953, Jim Beck's studio, Dallas, Texas

Wayne Raney, 1953

Wayne, November, 1953

Wayne Raney's Book of Unusual Songs

Published circa 1954

Wayne Raney, Teddy Riedel

The Wayne Raney T.V. Show on KRCG in Jefferson City, Missouri in 1955. Standing from left: Johnny Duncan, Kinky King, Joe Calahan and Wayne. Seated from left: Bill Calahan and rockabilly boy Teddy Riedel at the piano

Wayne Raney and Ann Ryon

Wayne Raney and Ann Ryon, sister of DJ and country singer Johnny Ryon

In 1957, he wrote and sang the gospel standard "We Need a Whole Lot More of Jesus (and a Lot Less Rock and Roll)" along with the Raney Family. From 1957 to 1961 he was as well working as a country music disc jockey on WCKY Radio Station in Cincinnati. Wayne invented the Mega-Harp in the late 1950’s, and also sold them on his taped radio programs. However, he will stop the sale when the cost of production will become too high.

Wayne Raney's mail

Wayne, Loys, Wanda, Norma & Zyndall in 1959, going through the orders to be filled. At times the mail was so heavy it took a pickup truck to haul the filled orders to the Post Office

Wayne Raney Standard Harmonica Course

Published 1958 by Wm. Kratt Co.

Dancers clip, WCKY
Wayne Raney, WCKY
Wayne Raney's LP Don't Try to be What You Ain't

A real country boy! Starday SLP 279 issued 1964

Pic of Wayne Raney Mega-Harp
Wayne Raney's Mega-Harp

The Mega-Harp and its parcel

Wayne Raney drawing
Wayne Raney's Starday ep

Three very scarce Starday eps: SEP 115, SEP 126 & SEP 133

Wayne Raney's Starday ep
Wayne Raney's Starday ep
Wayne Raney's Rimrock Records sign

The Rimrock Records sign in Concord, Arkansas

In 1961, Wayne packed up his family and moved to Concord Arkansas. Just up the road from where he was born. He bought a 180 acre Black Angus cattle farm and for awhile he seemed to be content at wearing bib-overalls and raising cattle, but soon he begin keeping time to the rhythm of the clatter on the old John Deere tractor and music filled his head again.

Wayne Raney's ad

It wasn’t long until Wayne built the Rimrock Recording Studio and added a vinyl record manufacturing plant. At that time it was the only business of this kind in the state of Arkansas. In 1974 Wayne sold his Rimrock Record business to Stax Records out of Memphis and moved 7 miles away to Drasco, Arkansas. In the late 70s, he played on his last TV show on "'Hee Haw".

Wayne Raney, Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn, Wilburn Brothers, Crystal Gail, Peggy Sue, Ralph Emery

August 1970, The Ralph Emery Show, WSM Studio. Standing from left: Crystal Gail, The Wilburn Brothers, Peggy Sue, Loretta Lynn, the brother of Gail Sue & Lynn, Merle Haggard and Wayne. Seated Ralph Emery

Wayne Raney & Lonnie Glosson on stage

Wayne & Lonnie, Waynesboro, Tennessee, August 1982

Wayne Raney & Lonnie Glosson

The old friends, always playing in the late 1980s

Wayne Raney's Life Has Not Been a Bed of Roses

Published April 1990

In 1990, Wayne published his autobiography, "Life Has Not Been a Bed of Roses". This same year, doctors diagnosed a throat and lung cancer. His larynx would have to be surgically removed. His crystal clear voice would never be heard again. Through it all Wayne never lost his sense of humor. With his battery operated speaking device held close to his throat, he would joke about the strange robot sound coming from his mouth. Soon everyone would be laughing with him and very much at-ease.

Three years after the cancer diagnosis, the curtain came down on the Wayne Raney Story on January 23, 1993.

So I started playin’,
I made the harmonica cry,
But the story will never end,
Till I lay down and die.

(“Harmonica Blues”, 1946)

When a child he was told by the doctors that he would spend his remaining days in a wheelchair … He walked all his life without a cane!

His own recordings had the same scarce flavor of authenticity as those of the Delmore Brothers and with his harmonica he contributed fully to their success on King. As a songwriter he had more than 200 songs to his credit.. An innovating artist in country music, he can be fully considered as a forerunner of rockabilly and rock and roll with titles like "Jack and Jill Boogie", "Lost John Boogie", "Del Rio Boogie", "Red Ball to Natchez" or "Real Hot Boogie".

(1) Homeless person traveling hidden on freight trains.   (2) Harmonica.

Wayne Raney's award



Posthumously inducted into the Disc-Jockey Hall-Of-Fame,
March 5, 1993. Nashville, Tennessee.

Posthumously inducted into the Western Swing Society Hall of Fame,
October 2, 1994. Sacramento, California.

Posthumously, the Ozark Pioneer Award, Batesville, Arkansas.
February, 1999.

Posthumously inducted into the George D. Hay, Country Music Hall Of Fame, Mammoth Springs, Arkansas.
Sept. 17, 2000.

Wayne Raney's award

Any addition or correction welcome. Your name quoted.