This week, Ira spoke with Leroy Van Dyke.
Leroy Van Dyke, of “Auctioneer” and “Walk On By” fame, and star of the movie, “What Am I Bid?” is known around the world as an entertainer, recording artist, radio and television star, actor, auctioneer and veteran of the Nevada circuit. He has recorded more than 500 songs, and probably holds the record for most repeat-performance bookings of any working, name country music entertainer. He has worked 40 to 70 fairs and livestock events per year for more than five decades, in addition to a great variety of other engagements. In 2016, Van Dyke will be celebrating the 60th anniversary of his hit, “Auctioneer.”
Van Dyke is a graduate of the University of Missouri with a dual major: Animal Husbandry and Journalism, with a minor in Speech. He received a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, did one semester of graduate work, and was a member of both the junior and senior University of Missouri intercollegiate livestock judging teams.
After serving as a special agent, U. S. Army Counter-Intelligence Corps, in Korea, Van Dyke was catapulted into show business while working as a journalist, when his self-penned “Auctioneer” recording went a million-plus, just weeks after its release. He then joined Red Foley’s ABC-TV Network “Ozark Jubilee” in Springfield, Missouri, as a regular member, and continued in that position for three years until the show left the air.
He again had a multi-million seller with “Walk On By,” a record that stayed in the charts an incredible 42 weeks, nineteen in the number one position, and was later named by Billboard Magazine as the biggest country music record in history! Van Dyke then moved to Nashville, Tennessee, and became a regular member of the world-famous Grand Ole Opry.
Music industry experts named Van Dyke as the Country Music Entertainer of the Decade for the 1960s. He had the starring role in the 1967 movie “What Am I Bid?”
He was a founding co-host of “Country Crossroads,” the most widely syndicated show in radio history; hosted his own syndicated television series, “The Leroy Van Dyke Show”; hosted the 1965 Country Music Association Awards Show at which Ernest Tubb was inducted into the Hall of Fame; was the first entertainer to receive the prestigious Country Music Association Founding President’s Award for contributing to the advancement and improved image of country music; served on the board of directors of the Country Music Association, and also served on the board of the International Entertainment Buyers Association.
Van Dyke is considered by industry moguls and by his peers to be the entertainer who put professionalism in country music. He was the first to blaze a trail and take a staged, produced, choreographed, self-contained country music show to the Las Vegas Strip. He was the first to take country music to Bourbon Street in New Orleans’ famed French Quarter. He was the only country music performer ever to open a show for Marilyn Monroe.
He is a 2001 inductee into the North American Country Music Association, International, Hall of Fame.
After more than four decades as an entertainer, Leroy still travels in excess of a hundred thousand performing miles yearly around the world . . . he performs in all facets of show business including fairs, festivals, concerts, rodeos, supper clubs, conventions, radio, television, recordings, the Nevada circuit, livestock events, agricultural shows and private functions.
He has not missed a performance in more than five decades as an entertainer.