When Western legend Red Steagall met one of the only actors who was more legendary than himself, John Wayne, he was in complete “awe.”
Steagall appeared on the John Wayne Girtscast as the season finale guest to share stories about his time in Hollywood and the music industry. The 83-year-old is known for being an actor, musician, and poet. And while singing, he worked with icons such as Ray Charles and Frank Sinatra. Steagall even discovered three-time Grammy winner Reba McEntire.
But despite hob-knobbing with the biggest celebrities of their eras, to Steagall, John Wayne belonged in a different class. So when he finally had a chance to meet the Oscar winner in person, he was speechless.
Red Steagall Met John Wayne Through ‘The Academy of Country and Western Music’
As Red Steagall shared with Wayne’s son and host of the podcast, Ethan Wayne, he and The Duke met through The Academy of Country and Western Music, which was created to promote Country music and country music singers in the western 13 states. The group was founded by greats such as Gene Autry, Eddie Dean, Tex Williams, and John Wayne. But Wayne wasn’t active in meetings because he was busy with his film career.
When Steagall moved to Hollywood, the organization was just getting started, and he became an active member, so much so that he got his own office in the headquarters. While he was there, he became “best friends” with all of the founders except for Wayne because he never met the star.
Wayne Recorded His Spoken Album With Steagall as His Audience
But in 1973, he finally got his chance to meet John Wayne when Wayne visited the organization to record his spoken album, America, Why I Love Her.
As the singer said, he was completely starstruck the moment he laid eyes on Wayne.
“So, there was a fellow named Billy Zelle who was doing a record with your dad,” Steagall told Ethan. “And my office was down across the street from the capital tower on Yuca. He came by my office one morning to talk about something else. And he said, ‘by the way, I’m gonna record The Duke today. Do you wanna come by and watch me?’ And I said, ‘sure.’
“And I was in awe, and I sat across the table from him, and I watched him do one of those songs. I don’t have any idea which one it was. It was one of those things on that album. Well, I was so, I was infatuated,” he continued. “I was intimidated. I couldn’t say hi—I couldn’t shake his hand.”
You can listen to the entire episode here.