He was born Orvon Gene Autry in Tioga, Texas. He first worked on the St. Louis and San Francisco railroad as a labourer and then a telegrapher.
He started on radio after a chance meeting with Will Rogers and was “Oklahoma’s Yodeling Cowboy”. His first hit was a duet with Jimmy Long called “That Silver Daddy of Mine” in 1932 and he was the first artist in history to have a gold record.
In 1934 he made his film debut in In Old Santa Fe. In all the 44 films he did for Republic Pictures Corp. he rode his horse Champion. When he served in WWII he was succeeded by Roy Rogers. From 1940-1956 he had a show on CBS called Gene Autry’s Melody Ranch.
He made 635 recordings and wrote more than 300 songs. He was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1969, the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970, and the Western Performers Hall of Fame in 1972.
He retired in 1964 and along with his other business ventures he took over the California Angels baseball team. He is the only performer to have all 5 stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for each performing medium. The Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum was founded in 1988 in Los Angeles and a town has been named after him called Gene Autry, Oklahoma.
He passed away at his home in Studio City, California on 2nd October 1998, of lymphoma, when he was 91 years old.
Here he is singing “Mexicali Rose”