"Ramblin' Lou" Schriver, often called "WNY's Father of Country Music," passed away with his loving family by his side on Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016.
Ramblin' Lou was a Western New York icon in Buffalo broadcasting and country music entertainment for 69 years.
Country music was a way of life and a passion for Ramblin' Lou. From an early age, he loved to sing and play his guitar at local shows, barn dances and events. In 1947, he started his radio career in Niagara Falls.
Ramblin' Lou blazed a path for country music throughout Western New York, Southern Ontario and Northern Pennsylvania. He was country when country wasn't cool. He was a country promoter and booked acts, bringing country music artists to Buffalo, the Northeast and surrounding areas for the first time in their careers. He was known as the "go-to" person east of Nashville.
Ramblin' Lou appeared numerous times at the Grand Ole Opry and WWVA Jamboree in Wheeling, West Virginia. He sponsored bus tours to Nashville, Wheeling and Branson, Missouri, for more than 60 years.
Ramblin' Lou worked with and sponsored hundreds of country music shows through the years, starting back in the 1950s. Some names include Hank Williams Sr., Eddy Arnold, Roy Acuff, Hank Snow, Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, Charley Pride, Willie Nelson, Buck Owens, Roy Clark, Kitty Wells, Ernest Tubb, Ray Price, Jerry Lee Lewis, Dolly Parton, Porter Wagoner, "Little" Jimmy Dickens, Bill Anderson, BoxCar Willie and Jim Reeves.
Ramblin' Lou became a lifelong friend to everyone he met. He was a man who truly loved people, classic country music, being a radio broadcaster and, most importantly, his family - who became known as the "Ramblin' Lou Family Band."
In the early years, Lou's band was called the Twin Pine Mountaineers. In 1961, Ramblin' Lou married the love of his life, Joanie Marshall, a guitar virtuoso. He loved to tell the story of how he needed a guitar player, and didn't have the money to pay her, so he married her! Her response was, "He married me, and he's been paying for it ever since!"
Ramblin' Lou and Joanie were married 54 years and had four children: Linda Lou, Lou IV, Lori Ann and Lynn Carol. There are five grandchildren, who also perform regularly with the Ramblin' Lou Family Band: Lindsey Carol, Crista Marie, Lou V, Luke Austin and Raj.
This past year, the Family Band celebrated its 51st consecutive year at the Erie County Fair in Hamburg.
In 1970, Lou and Joanie purchased WMMJ, which Lou changed to "WXRL" ("RL" for Ramblin' Lou). He changed the format to classic country, and it has been going strong for 46 years.
His list of accomplishments is impressive. Just a few of them include:
•Lifetime member of the Country Music Association in Nashville
•Ramblin' Lou and Joanie were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame's "Walkway of Stars" in Nashville
•Elected to the Country Music "Disc Jockey Hall of Fame" in Nashville
•Lifetime member of the Country Music International Talent Buyer's Association
•Member of the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame
•Member of Buffalo Broadcaster's Hall of Fame - "Distinguished Broadcaster Award"
•New York "Country Music Hall of Fame"
•Time-Life released "Lost Concerts" by Hank Williams Sr., recorded live in 1952 at Ramblin' Lou's Show in Niagara Falls.
"I know Ramblin' Lou would want to thank all the many friends and fans throughout Western New York for all their loyal support of classic country music, and to the radio sponsors, many of whom have been on the air with Lou for over 50 years," his family said. "WXRL and Lou's family will continue to bring the music to its listeners that Lou started 69 years ago."
With much love and admiration, Linda Lou quoted the Loretta Lynn line, "They don't make 'em like my Daddy anymore."
Funeral arrangements are courtesy of Fretthold Funeral Home, 1241 Oliver St., North Tonawanda. Friends may pay their respect from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday. A church service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Friday from Salem United Church of Christ, corner of Main and Morgan streets, Tonawanda.
Memorial donations may be made to Salem United Church of Christ.