Webb Michael Pierce was one of the most popular American honky tonk vocalists of the 1950s, charting more number one hits than any other country artist during the decade. His biggest hit is “There Stands the Glass”.
For many, Pierce, with his flamboyant Nudie suits and twin silver dollar-lined convertibles, became the most recognizable face of country music of the era and its excesses. Pierce was a one-time member of the Grand Ole Opry and was posthumously inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Born in West Monroe, Louisiana in 1921, as a boy Pierce was infatuated with Gene Autry films and his mother’s hillbilly records, particularly those of Jimmie Rodgers and Western swing and Cajun groups. He began to play guitar before he was a teenager and at 15 was given his own weekly 15-minute show, Songs by Webb Pierce, on KMLB-AM in Monroe.
He enlisted in the US Army, and in 1942 he married Betty Jane Lewis. After he was discharged, the couple moved to Shreveport, Louisiana, where Pierce worked in the men’s department of a Sears Roebuck store. In 1947, the couple appeared on KTBS-AM’s morning show as “Webb Pierce with Betty Jane, the Singing Sweetheart.” Pierce also performed at local engagements, developing his unique style that was once described to be “a wailing whiskey-voiced tenor that wrang out every drop of emotion.”