Western Entertainer Red Steagall to Receive 2018 National Golden Spur Award
National Ranching Heritage Center Announces Award at Fort Worth Reception
Western recording artist and cowboy poet Red Steagall was named recipient of the 2018 National Golden Spur Award Saturday (January 13) during a surprise reception in Fort Worth planned to coincide with the annual Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo.
“The award is the most prestigious honor given by the ranching and livestock industry in recognition of accomplishments by an individual,” said Jim Bret Campbell, executive director of the National Ranching Heritage Center (NRHC) at Texas Tech University in Lubbock.
Campbell revealed the 2018 honoree to a crowd of nearly 200 persons gathered to hear the announcement at the Botanical Research Institute of Texas near the stock show grounds. Steagall will be honored October 13 in Lubbock during a formal Golden Spur dinner held annually to recognize an award winner who has gained the respect and admiration of industry peers.
“Red Steagall has spent a lifetime telling the story of ranching,” Campbell said. “Through his music, poetry, syndicated radio show and television show, Red has helped ensure that the stories of the real West don’t just fade into obscurity. His work keeps the rancher and cowboy in front of a mainstream audience.
“Most importantly, Red reflects the values, integrity and character that have always been a part of ranch life. He’s authentic and that resonates with everyone who appreciates this ranching heritage.”
Established in 1978, the award is a joint recognition given by six of the leading state and national organizations in the ranching and livestock industry: American Quarter Horse Association, National Cattlemen’s Foundation, Ranching Heritage Association, Texas Cattle Feeders Association, Texas Farm Bureau and Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.
At age 79, Steagall has held celebrity status since the 1970s as a Western entertainer who emphasizes ranch life, Western heritage and cowboy values. The popular Red Steagall Cowboy Gathering and Western Swing Festival has been held every October in Fort Worth for the past 27 years. His radio show is carried by 155 stations in 34 states, and he records 26 new episodes a year of “Somewhere West of Wall Street,” a television show that appears on RFD-TV.
Steagall’s career as a musician began in the mid-1960s but his passion for ranching heritage, Western values and working cowboy traditions began much earlier in the ranch country of the Texas High Plains. He was born Russell Steagall in Gainesville, Texas, but grew up in the small Panhandle town of Sanford, Texas, population 181. Steagall describes his childhood as “idyllic,” which might seem strange for someone diagnosed with polio at age 15.
The Salk vaccine came too late for Steagall, but music lessons on a $10 secondhand mandolin strengthened his fingers after polio destroyed the deltoid muscle of his left shoulder and weakened his left arm and hand. Although he is essentially one-handed, the singer-songwriter cowboy has played mandolin and guitar in a band since his college days and performed at the White House and at concerts in the Middle East, South America, Europe, Australia and beyond.
Steagall began a career as an agricultural chemist after graduating from West Texas State University with a degree in animal science and agronomy. During college he began writing songs, formed a country band and even continued playing at rodeo dances while working for five years as a chemist.
One day a friend who was making it big in the music business called from California and said he needed help. Steagall headed to Hollywood, eventually became a music industry executive and had his first success as a songwriter when Ray Charles recorded his “Here We Go Again.” Other country hits followed and Steagall moved to Nashville before resettling in Texas with his wife Gail at his ranch near Fort Worth.
For decades Steagall was a regular guest at rodeos and his records achieved a major following among fans of cowboy songs. He has collected dozens of awards and been inducted into a lengthy list of halls of fame. When he began writing cowboy poetry, his influence as a poet became so well known by 1991 that the Texas legislature voted him the official Cowboy Poet of Texas. In 2006, Steagall was named Poet Laureate of the State of Texas, a distinction never before given to a cowboy poet.