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Musician Red Sovine (July 17, 1918-April 4, 1980) gained country music fame for his recitations, especially those incorporating sentimental truck driver themes. Born Woodrow Wilson Sovine in Charleston, he was influenced by Frank Welling and Buddy Starcher, two local radio musicians who also delivered sentimental monologues. Sovine’s earlier musical efforts brought little success at either WCHS Charleston or WWVA Wheeling. He took a factory job in the Putnam County town of Eleanor, but still did programs on local radio. After World War II, he opted for a full-time musical career in Montgomery, Alabama, Shreveport, Louisiana, and finally Nashville.

In 1949, he began recording with MGM, Decca, and eventually Starday. He joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1954. Although the majority of his repertoire consisted of straight country singing, his biggest hits were recitations, especially ‘‘Giddyup Go’’ (1965), ‘‘Phantom 309’’ (1967), and ‘‘Teddy Bear’’ (1976). Red Sovine remained active until his death in Nashville. He was inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame in 2008.

This Article was written by Abby Gail Goodnite

Last Revised on July 17, 2020


Tribe, Ivan M. Mountaineer Jamboree: Country Music in West Virginia. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1984.

Cite This Article

Goodnite, Abby Gail "Red Sovine." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 17 July 2020. Web. 24 February 2024.


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