of the famous Texas song, "Beautiful Texas", W. Lee "Pappy"
O'Daniel served as Texas governor and United States senator.
in 1890 in Ohio, O'Daniel came to Texas at age 29 as a sales manager
for Burrus Mills, a flour-milling company in Fort Worth. In 1928,
O'Daniel took over the company's radio advertising and started a country
music program to promote the flour. O'Daniel hosted the show and organized
a band called the Light Crust Doughboys. Many of the musicians who
made Western Swing famous, including Bob Wills, got their start in
O'Daniel's band. In 1935 he organized his own flour company to make
"Hillbilly Flour" and began to call his band the Hillbilly
Boys. The slogan, "Pass the biscuits, Pappy," made O'Daniel
a household name throughout Texas.
ran for governor of Texas in 1938. He attracted huge crowds, and won
the election by a landslide.
first dip into the taditionally choppy waters of Texas politics happend
in this way.... Pappy had mentioned during a broadcast of his radio
show show that a blind man had given him the idea to run for governor
so that he could... "clean up the mess in Austin." While
most historians believe he had already made up his mind, O'Daniel
got his audience involved and asked his listeners to advise him as
to just exactly what what decision he should make. To run or not to
run. That was the question. Not surprisingly, out of the well over
50,000 replies he received, all but a handful suggested that he join
the race..... few dissenters were concerned that he was just plain
much too good to get involved in the world of politics. Pappy accepted
the wisdom of his listeners and announced his candidacy.
experets gave O'Daniel no chance at all to win. Many of the political
experts looked upon his candidacy as simply another publicity gimmick
and trick designed as an advertising stunt to expand his radio and
business interests. What happened however, was a big surprise for
the experts, Pappy won in a landlside.
and the Hillbilly Boys took to the road, touring the state throughout
the primary and election. The show attacted large crowds where wherever
it appeared and was the talk of the town and a popular event in rural
Texas. At the time news reports guessed that some of the crowds numbered
more than 40,000. The Hillbilly Boys would start off the events with
a rendtition of O'Daniel's "Beautiful Texas."
Thus began a
unique era in Texas politics. O'Daniel possessed almost no qualifications
for success in the governorship, and accomplished little of the populist
agenda he had promised the people of Texas. There were many controversial
aspects to his administration as governor, but despite his shortcomings
as a leader, he remained very popular due to his masterful showmanship.
1941, O'Daniel won election to the United States Senate in one of
the most controversial elections in Texas history, edging out Congressman
Lyndon Baines Johnson by only a handful of votes. O'Daniel was ineffective
in the Senate and was shunned by his more serious colleagues. With
his popularity finally on the wane, he did not seek reelection in
In later years,
O'Daniel was active in business and made two weak comeback attempts
at the governorship, but time had passed Pappy by and he attracted
few votes. He died in 1969.
His song "Beautiful
Texas" was so popular that it even appeared as a sheet music
publication in Australia, by the name of "Beautiful Queensland",
sung by "Tex Morton" and his wild west show in Australia.
If you would like a free copy of the
original sheet music for Beautiful Texas, for piano and
to this web site.......
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