Born outside of Abilene, Texas where he dabbled in local radio Ray Odom moved to Phoenix in 1951 and never looked back. In those early fifties he pursued radio jobs at KRIZ AND KRUX…..back then, those future rival Phoenix top 40 stations featured Block programming and a variety of different styles of music including country music.
While at KRUX he began hosting a Saturday night show at the huge Madison Square Garden club off 7th Avenue and Washington called THE ARIZONA HAYRIDE…..Odom began featuring local musical talent including twangy guitar stylist DUANE EDDY and piano player JIMMY DELL, superb guitarist AL CASEY JIMMY SPELLMAN, DONNIE OWENS, and many many more local Phoenix talent. Soon ODOM would branch out to bring in Grand Ole Opry stars such as RAY PRICE, DON GIBSON, PATSY CLINE and a who’s who of mainly country entertainers…Odom also hosted the popular Wrestling matches at Madison Square Garden as well as on local tv back in the day.
One day while on the air at KRUX he received a phone call from a young and still unknown ELVIS PRESLEY who was passing through town. He asked Odom if he could perform on that nights Hayride show for $30.00 gas money and Odom turned him down because his show was booked. When Odom eventually did bring Presley to Phoenix it cost a cool $10,000.
In 1955 ODOM and partner A.V. BAM Bamford branched out and started up the VERY FIRST full time country radio station in Phoenix known as KHEP… even though it was a daytime only station it quickly gained a huge audience. By the late 50’s he’d put the first 24 hour country station on the air known as KHAT…. and in the late 70’s was part of KJJJ country radio in Phoenix. In addition, he and his partner owned country stations in Tucson and San Antonio, Texas. Odom would continue to expand his concert promotion business by bringing in even bigger stars such as FRANK SINATRA and JOHNNY CASH and he brought ELVIS PRESLEY to Arizona in concert at least 3 times over the years. At one ELVIS show at the State Fairgrounds….Presley’s manager, Colonel Tom Parker demanded 40 uniformed police officers to surround the stage to keep the screaming teenagers at bay…..
Ray Odom booked many shows at the long gone RIVERSIDE PARK BALLROOM by the Salt River on South Central Avenue. There he booked in entertainers such as PATSY CLINE, WILLIE NELSON, JOHNNY WESTERN and many more.
Another passion of Ray Odom’s was racing horses.
While retired today, Odom and wife Dolly still race horses at major horse tracks around the country including TURF PARADISE in Phoenix …..
We’re proud to induct RAY ODOM into THE ARIZONA MUSIC AND ENTERTAINMENT HALL OF FAME.