b. Joseph Lee Frank, 15 April 1900, Rossal, Limestone County, Alabama, USA, d. 4 May 1952. Orphaned at seven, he grew up in Tennessee and as a youth worked as a coalminer and a hotel bellboy. In 1923, he relocated to Chicago and after his marriage in 1925, he and his wife, Marie, became involved in artist management. Between 1928 and 1935, he was involved with WLSRoundup, and in 1929, he became manager of Gene Autry and Smiley Burnette. Between 1935 and 1939, he worked from Louisville, Kentucky, but, believing that Nashville was to become an important venue for country music, he opened an office there. His ability to promote country shows and organize tours for artists soon made him a popular and important figure in Music City. He was prominent in helping many artists, especially Pee Wee King (his son-in-law), Roy Acuff, Eddy Arnold, Hank Williams, Hank Snow, Minnie Pearl and Ernest Tubb, and managed numerous others. His association with a major theatre chain enabled country artists to be booked into venues that previously had been unavailable to the genre. Frank’s ability to promote the artists also helped to promote the image of the Grand Ole Opry and he was instrumental in helping many to actual membership of theOpry, particularly Roy Acuff. He also wrote a few country songs, including ‘Sundown And Sorrow’ and ‘Chapel On The Hill’. However, he was no vocalist, he did not play any instrument, nor could he read music. On 4 May 1952, he died of a major throat infection, while on a trip to Dallas to promote a show. In 1967, J.L. ‘Joe’ Frank was inducted into the Country Music Hall Of Fame. His plaque reads: ‘Pioneer promoter of Country & Western Shows. His method of combining broadcasting and personal appearances moved country entertainers from rural schoolhouses into city auditoriums and coliseums. The unselfish, compassionate man was one of the industry’s most loved members’.
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