Horace Lee “Hoss” Logan, radio announcer, founder of the Louisiana Hayride, and coiner of the catchphrase “Elvis has left the building,” was born on August 3, 1916, in Mer Rouge, Louisiana, to Horace Lee Logan, Sr., and Pearl Louise (Herron) Logan. He grew up in Monroe, Louisiana. When he was ten years old, his mother and father separated, and his mother moved him and his brother to Shreveport, Louisiana. He attended Creswell Elementary School. At age eleven Logan began working at a local root beer stand. He eventually dropped out of high school during the Depression to take a job driving an ice truck to help support his family. Later Logan returned to Byrd High School, where he graduated, and attended Centenary College where he served as drum major for the college band.
In 1932 at the age of sixteen, Logan began his career in radio when he won a local contest to become an announcer of KWKH-AM in Shreveport. The win meant a salary, which was greatly needed. With his deep and impressive voice Logan was moved into the position of sign-on person for KWKH seven days a week. After only a year at Centenary College, Logan dropped out to pursue a full-time career in radio, where he broadcast the news and was the host and master of ceremonies for the KWKH Saturday Night Roundup, which was the precursor to the Louisiana Hayride and featured country music artists. By the early 1940s he was married and had a son. He remained at KWKH until he was drafted during World War II; he served in the United States Army from 1942 to 1945. After his discharge Logan opened a gun repair shop but returned to radio in 1947 as the program director for KWKH.
In 1948 with the help of station manager Henry Clay and commercial manager Dean Upson, Logan brought his idea of a radio program to life by starting the Louisiana Hayride. With Logan as the master of ceremonies, the Hayride, which was produced before a live studio audience in Shreveport’s Municipal Auditorium for three hours on Saturday night, was to be a regional rival to Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry. In 1953 the show was syndicated by CBS radio to 191 stations across the South. By the next year, Armed Forces Radio also began to carry the show. Unlike the Opry, which required the artist have a hit before performing on the show, Logan and the Hayride encouraged new artists and booked anyone with the requirement that they had a record. The program also allowed other things the Opry did not, such as electric guitars and other modern instruments of the day. As a result the Hayride earned the name of the “Cradle of Stars” for taking a chance and launching the careers of Elvis Presley, Slim Whitman, Hank Williams, Jr., and Johnny Cash. Logan was instrumental in promoting many Texas stars as well, including Willie Nelson, George Jones, Billy Walker, Jim Reeves, Johnny Horton, Bob Luman, Charline Arthur, and Jimmy Day.
Not only was the Louisiana Hayride important, Logan was also gaining importance. According to musician Merle Kilgore (as quoted by Myrna Oliver in the Los Angeles Times), “When he [Logan] gave you an introduction, you thought the president of the United States was coming on. He was the greatest. Being on the ‘Hayride’…that was as big as it got in the country music industry.”
The biggest star created by the Louisiana Hayride was Elvis Presley. Presley’s popularity rapidly grew on the program. In December 1956 Logan used the phrase “Elvis has left the building,” which soon became a common catchphrase to calm down the hysterical audience of screaming fans.
Logan stayed with KWKH as program director until 1958 when he left to move to California to pursue other radio jobs. He had also appeared in Roger Corman’s 1957 schlock-rock movie Carnival Rock as master of ceremonies and arranged for his clients, James Burton and Bob Luman, to appear as the band, The Shadows, in the movie. After leaving California in 1958, Logan moved to Fort Worth and became program director for KCUL radio. He was later hired as emcee of Big D Jamboree at the Sportatorium in Dallas. There he announced such stars as Willie Nelson and Ernest Tubb. Logan stayed on with Big D Jamboree until its demise and ultimately remained in the Dallas–Fort Worth area for ten years.
Logan moved to Florida briefly in 1971 after which he returned to Monroe, Louisiana, to work as program director for KREB. In 1995 Logan retired to Seadrift, Texas, with his third wife, Linda. He wrote his memoir in 1998 entitled Elvis, Hank, and Me: Making Musical History on the Louisiana Hayride; however, some critics questioned Logan’s historical accuracy. During his life, Logan fathered four children—two daughters, Gale Logan and Cassandra Cantereil; and two sons, Lee Logan and Tommy Logan. Logan lived the final years of his life in Seadrift where he attended the First United Methodist Church. On October 13, 2002, Logan died in Victoria, Texas, of pancreatitis and acute respiratory distress syndrome. He was eighty-six years old.