"Keep in step with Stepp" three times a day was a slogan at KBOX, Modesto, California. This is just what the folks do at the Fun Center in Riverbank, ten miles east of Modesto, every Saturday night with Glenn Stepp and his Western Swingsters.
Glenn "stepped" into life on April 2nd, 1930, in the good ole hills at Tahlequah, Oklahoma. There were six children in this family, four boys and two girls. It was in high school that Glenn organized his first band, which he named the "Oklahoma Music Makers". They played for school dances and at halls and rodeos. He also rode Brahma bulls and bareback broncs in amateur rodeos.
Glenn entered the service June 1948 and served with the Paratroopers of the 187th Regt. at Hokkaido, Japan. While at Camp Campbell, Kentucky he became a star on WKDA's "Hayloft Jamboree" in Nashville, Tenn. He received his discharge after two years and returned to Tahlequah, where he joined the Oklahoma National Guard serving in the 45th Division in Japan and Korea. In addition to his regular duties, be entertained troops in Japan with his Oklahoma Swingsters and appeared on the Armed Forces Radio Service (AFRS) in Sapporo, Japan. After his second discharge, Glenn settled in Modesto near his folks. Glenn later returned to Oklahoma again where he passed away on April 30, 1997.
(Courtesy of Country Song Roundup magazine, issue No. 34, September 1954. Published by American Folk Publications, Inc. Derby, CT. and hillbilly-music.com for providing the copy of the article.)
1960s-era band leader and well-known disc jockey Glenn Stepp died in Oklahoma on April 15, 1997 at the age of 67.
Moving to Modesto in 1954, Stepp was hired as a disc jockey for radio station KBOX and later worked for Chester Smith in 1963, when Smith started KLOC. Originally it was Stepp and Smith, working at opposite radio station...and both vying for the country music audience in the Modesto area.
Chester Smith and Glenn Stepp also shared the rivalry in another musical arena; they both had country and western swing bands, featuring local musicians playing throughout the area. The Glenn Stepp band often attracted hundreds of people for weekend shows that often lasted until 2 am. Smith once recalled that: "People just loved him. He walked around the crowd, he would get up on stage and sing a little, he would lead the band."
Longtime friend Betty Bench of Modesto said: "Glenn was a real pioneer in the early days of country music...about every country musician in Modesto played in Glenn's band at one time or another. Riverbank had a clubhouse and a roller rink, and Glenn played one and Chester the other. Bench's late husband, Fred, played the piano in both bands at different times.
Glenn Stepp Succumbs
Stepp was a paratrooper in the Korean War and often used his old parachute for a backdrop behind his band. He was an afternoon disc jockey for Smith's KLOC until moving back to Oklahoma in 1971.
While there, he continued to organize local bands, promote music and help would-be country singers. He also started a recording studio that went by the name "Hang Tough."
In 1991, Stepp was inducted into the Country Swing Hall of Fame. In 1994, he also helped start the annual tribute in Oklahoma to the late Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. Mr. Stepp was given the key to the city of Riverbank in 1984.
He is survived by his wife, Dorine of Tahlequah, OK; his children, "Little" Glenn Stepp Jr. of Modesto, Rick Stepp of Turlock, Linda Paden and Tommy Tillery, both of Tahlequah, Kathy Forman of Westville, OK; three brothers, two sisters and numerous grandchildren.