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LINDSAY, MERL (1915-1965)

In the 1940s and 1950s Merl Lindsay and His Oklahoma Night Riders were a popular Western-swing band. Lindsay, born on December 12, 1915, as Merle (with an e) Lindsay Salathiel, was one of eight children of a musical family. Both of his parents played instruments, and two of his siblings, a brother and a sister, became professional musicians. In 1936 Lindsay began his career in a family-owned, Oklahoma City dance hall, Salathiel's Barn. Two years later he formed his own band, Merle Salathiel and the Barnyard Boys. In 1941 he moved the band to California, changing the name to the Oklahoma Night Riders. While there, they appeared in a few movies, and he dropped his last name, becoming Merl Lindsay.

In 1947 he returned to Oklahoma City, where he broadcasted a daily radio show and a television show. That year the family dance hall burned, and afterward he and the Oklahoma Night Riders worked a variety of local halls until he opened the Lindsay Land Ballroom in south Oklahoma City. They recorded for Mercury Records, M-G-M Records, and other labels, enjoying regional popularity.

In 1957 Red Foley featured them on his Ozark Jubilee television show and hired them as the regular show band. They changed their name to the Ozark Jubilee Band. Many of the group moved back and forth from his band to other Western-swing bands, such as those led by Bob Wills, Johnnie Lee Wills, Leon McAuliffe, and Hank Thompson. Merle Lindsay Salathiel died from cancer on October 12, 1965, in Oklahoma City, and was posthumously inducted into the Western Swing Society Hall of Fame in 1992.

SEE ALSO: DANCE HALLS, FOLKLIFE, WESTERN SWING, JAMES ROBERT "BOB" WILLS.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 1 September 1965, 13 October 1965, and 28 December 1994.

Guy Logsdon

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