Les Gilliam Wins Wrangler
On April 16, 2005, the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City will present the annual Wrangler Awards. This institution was formerly known as The National Cowboy Hall of Fame. Wranglers are presented for the most outstanding work in several categories of western culture from the previous year. Included among these categories are the best Western Film, Western TV Show, Western Book, Western Works of Art and others. Most years, a Life Time Achievement Award goes to someone who has contributed much to the western culture, history or lifestyle.
Wranglers are also given for the outstanding Traditional Western Music Album and Original Western Song. Receiving the Wrangler for original song will be Dale Burson of Texas.
Receiving the Wrangler Award for outstanding Western Album will be Les Gilliam, “The Oklahoma Balladeer” of Ponca City, Oklahoma. His cowboy music album “It’s Time to Sing a Song” was selected for the award. The Wrangler is considered by many to be the most prestigious award in the field of western music.
The Awards Banquet will be held at the National Cowboy Museum in Oklahoma City on April, 16, 2005. The cost of attending this black tie affair is $140 per plate. Attendees usually include a number of Hollywood personalities who have appeared in western movies or TV shows and who have a love for the cowboy life. Already committed to attend are Ernest Borgnine, Peter Fonda and Robert Caradine, with many others invited.
Les Gilliam grew up in Gene Autry, Oklahoma. Western music has been his love for many years. He spent 38 years in the computer business while raising a family with music being his avocation. But now for the past 11 years, Les has been full time in the music business. In 2004, he did 125 performances. He has recorded 10 albums and two videos.
Back in the late 1930’s, Gene Autry bought the ranch next to where Les lived with his grandparents. Mr. Autry often came to visit Les and his family when Gene came to check on his rodeo stock on his ranch. When Gene made it known that he planned to make cowboy movies on his Oklahoma ranch, the local folks got Gene’s permission to change the name of the town from Berwyn to Gene Autry, Oklahoma. However, WWII and Television changed Gene’s plans to make movies in Oklahoma so the town never became the “Cowboy Movie Capitol of America” as many had hoped. But the town still remembers Gene by operating a museum and annual celebration to honor Mr. Autry and all the other western movie stars.