Jim Lowe Jr.; Radio Announcer, Voice of Big Tex
Jim Lowe Jr., a pioneering radio announcer and disc jockey who for more than 40 years was the voice of Big Tex, the 52-foot-tall mechanical cowboy at the Texas state fair, died May 28 at his home in Dallas. He was 73 and the cause of death was cancer.
Born in Fort Worth, Lowe began his radio career in 1947, the same year he graduated from high school. He spent most of his career at WRR, an AM station in Dallas, where he originated an innovative rhythm and blues program, the “Kats Karavan” show. He brought legendary blues artists like John Lee Hooker, B.B. King, Lightnin’ Hopkins and Jimmy Reed to the attention of white listeners in Dallas. He maintained that rhythm and blues was not rock ‘n’ roll and preferred black artists to the likes of Elvis Presley and Carl Perkins.
In 1953, Lowe took over the job as the voice of Big Tex, a post he held until last fall, when failing health forced him to relinquish his duties.
Lowe offered scripted comments telling visitors of coming attractions, slowing his voice to keep pace with Big Tex’s jaws. In 1996, Big Tex and Lowe became bilingual, uttering a few phrases in Spanish.
He made Big Tex’s main line, “Howdy folks, this is Big Tex. Welcome to the State Fair of Texas,” an enduring element of the festivities, as much as hot dogs and pie judging.
“He defined what Big Tex sounded like,” Nancy Wiley, the fair’s vice president of public affairs, told the Dallas Morning News. “He created Big Tex’s personality. Jim, more than anyone, made Tex what he is.”