Johnnie High, the music impresario behind Johnnie High’s Country Music Revue in North Texas for more than 30 years, died Wednesday (3/17) of congestive heart failure. He was 80. High’s Opry-style show helped launch the careers of country stars including LeAnn Rimes, Gary Morris, the Dixie Chicks, Lee Ann Womack and many others. High also made it possible for many North Texans to live out their dreams onstage before members of a loyal audience, some of whom attended the show faithfully for years.
“It’s hard to let go of a man who has done so much for this industry,” said longtime friend Bill Mack. “He was determined to help people get into one of the most complex businesses in the world.”
High began his Saturday show in 1974 after converting an old movie theater outside of Dallas into the Grapevine Opry. There, he gave Boxcar Willie and Rimes, then a child, some of their first stage experience.
Since 1995, Johnnie High’s Country Music Revue has been a weekly fixture at a former Arlington movie theater. It now airs nationally in syndicated television.