Fans of Hee Haw's 1980's run and the TNN (The Nashville Network) series Nashville Now may remember the scruffy voiced, mustachioed puppet Shotgun Red. The creation of multi-instrumentalist and puppeteer Steve Hall became a sidekick to Nashville Now's Ralph Emery for a decade (1983-1993) and remained an unofficial mascot of country music until Hall's Dec. 29, 2018 passing.
Hall found the puppet that became Shotgun Red in 1980 at a Brainerd, Minnesota hobby shop. Shotgun Red became the hype man for Hall's band at the time, Southbound '76.
While in Nashville to compete in a battle of the bands, Hall met Emery and won him over with his Shotgun Red routine. The Hall/Red and Emery combination eventually became so popular that they recorded two albums in 1989-- Ralph and Red: Songs for Children and Christmas With Ralph and Red.
As Red's renown grew, so did his family with the addition of a wife, Miss Daisy, and sons Buckshot and Slingshot. Plush versions of all four are easy to find country collectables, with the straw hat on seemingly every Shotgun Red doll signed by Hall. Beware that many of the Shotgun Reds for sale lack his removable denim vest.
Constant airtime and collectable dolls matched public demand for the the Nashville celebrity that, per the Tennessean's archives, claimed the city's second-largest fan club at one point with membership topping 100,000. That's nearly enough people to fill the University of Tennessee's Neyland Stadium, and by no means did every Shotgun Red fan, young and old, join the club.
As Nashville Now reached its end, Shotgun Red remained the Music City equivalent of a muppet, appearing everywhere from the Grand Ole Opry stage to additional television opportunities. He even headlined the General Jackson Showboat and the Nashville Nightlife Dinner Theater on numerous occasions with Hall's band, which had been rechristened the Shotgun Red Band.
Additional television series featuring Red over the years included TNN's music video show Country Clips and the Outdoor Channel's Buckmasters. In addition, Hall and his wife Miss Sheila joined Red in 2011 for RFDTV's The Shotgun Red Variety Show. Miss Sheila also co-hosted YouTube series Cooking with Shotgun Red alongside Jennifer Bruce.
Just like Opry icon Minnie Pearl, recent Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Ray Stevens and numerous others, Shotgun Red reminded his 100,000-plus fans that country music doesn't always have to be serious business.