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Larry Battsons Wild World Welcomes Okefenokee Joe

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Join Wildlife Educator Larry Battson and Dr. Henry Day as they visit with Okefenokee Joe. Here is a little background on Okefenokee Joe.

Prior to his stint as the Okefenokee Swamp Park's animal curator, Joe achieved a measure of fame as a songwriter and musician who sang and played the guitar. Upon getting out of the Army, he and one of his Army buddies teamed up as "The Country Lads" and immediately secured a spot on The Jimmy Dean Country Music Show in 1955. Shown on CBS on weekday mornings, the show routinely outdrew Dave Garroway on the early Today Show on NBC for a year-and-a-half. The show was so popular that, paradoxically, it was canceled so that Dean could be sent to New York to be developed as an entertainer. In 1958 Joe moved to Tennessee and appeared as a guest regularly on The Grand Ole Opry. A year later he assembled a group, and Dick Flood and the Pathfinders began to make records. In 1962 he was named the Most Up-and-Coming Male Vocalist in Country Music by Cashbox magazine. It was also in 1962 that a song he wrote, "Trouble's Back in Town," was recorded by the Wilburn Brothers and became the No. 1 country song of the year. His rendition of "The Three Bells," a No. 1 song on both the country and pop charts, was so popular (in the 20s on the country charts) that for the first time in history a separate version of a current hit was listed on the charts. His version did, in fact, eventually hit No. 1-in India.

He had first begun to study wildlife as a child, and then, as a traveling musician, he had made a point of visiting zoos, parks, and exhibits with the idea of beginning his own exhibit one day. As his own agent, he had been able to schedule his bookings according to the wildlife. For example, he would perform in Texas in the spring so he could be with the snake hunters on their yearly round-ups.

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