One day Willie Nelson was in Nashville on the bus with his sidekick, Frank Oakley, who with his wife Jeanie. She is the storekeeper for Willie Nelson’s General Store and Museum, which was founded on July 4, 1979. Oakley was bringing Nelson up to date about what was happening in Nashville since his last visit. One of the bits of news was that Norman Lear, creator of the “All in the Family” TV sitcom, had bought a satellite TV station in Nashville, and along with the station, the old Show Biz, Inc. video tape library was part of the assets.
Lear wasn’t interested in owning a bunch of old hillbilly shows and wanted to sell them because it was costing him money to rent space to store them. A local TV station and a production company were interested in buying them. But, after hearing this news, Nelson said, “hell, why don’t we buy them?” The reason Nelson wanted the shows is that not only did he have the idea of going on the air with his own Country Music satellite channel, but he wanted to preserve the history of his friends performing. Nelson thinks it is very important to “keep this music alive along with the stars who create it.” This is what we at RTDtv are attempting to do. We are working to make the tapes available to the public.
Watch the extensive Act IV music television programs from Willie Nelson’s very own collection. The classic programs showcase the best talent of their day. See Nashville on the Road, Del Reeves’s Country Carnival and more on weekdays at 11 p.m. EST!
The Show Biz Tape Library consists of the following shows:
The Porter Wagoner Show (1960 – 1980):
This 20-year series, produced in Nashville, is in many ways the most successful country music half-hour show in history, where many country music performers appeared:
Hank Williams, TillisTillis, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Faron Young, Bill Monroe, George Jones, Lester Flatt, Mary Robbins, Merle Haggard, Lefty Frizzell, Webb Pierce, George Morgan, Roy Acuff, Tex Ritter, Dottie West and many more.
Pop Goes the Country (1974 – 1982):
Also produced in Nashville, this show was the pre curser to Ralph Emery’s cable offering on TNN, Nashville Now”. Ralph Emery was host for first six years, followed by Tom T. Hall.
The Wilburn Brothers Show (1966 – 1974):
Doyle and Teddy Wilburn had these successful traveling country music shows in the 1960?s, and brought a rich history of country music to television. Perhaps the highlight of the series was their singer, a young Loretta Lynn, who appears on most of the 354 half-hour episodes.
Nashville on the Road (1975 – 1982):
This show was produced in various venues around the USA and starred Jim Ed Brown. It showcased major names in country music and was a major tourist destination each week.
Gospel Singing Jubilee (1965 – 1975):
Non-stop southern gospel music featuring the most famous, white gospel groups of the 1960?s and 1970?s. The 376 one-hour, color episodes were hosted by Les Beasley and the Florid Boys.
The Beat (1966 – 1967):
This rhythm and blues series is the only non-country show in the catalogue. It was hosted by Nashville dee-jay Bill “Hoss” Allen.
The Country Carnival (1969 – 1971):
This half-hour series stars Jim Ed Brown and featured Crystal Gayle, Loretta Lynn’s little sister. There are 100 episodes, all in color.