A venue in the hometown of Tulsa-based music impresario Jim Halsey has been renamed in his honor.
Halsey, who has managed 29 members of the Country Music Hall of Fame and 10 members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, grew up in Independence, Kansas. Halsey, 89, still manages the Oak Ridge Boys.
The Oak Ridge Boys performed Saturday in Independence. In a ceremony prior to the show, it was announced that Memorial Hall Auditorium was being renamed Jim Halsey Auditorium.
I’ve never been as honored as that,” Halsey said. “That’s the biggest honor I have ever had or expect to get.”
Halsey was born and raised in Independence, where his family owned a department store. He said he started his promotion business 70 years ago with a Leon McAuliffe show in the auditorium that now bears his name. Halsey continued to bring other events there, including theater shows that were making their way between Tulsa and Kansas City.
“To have a city structure named after you, I’m just really so humbled and shocked,” Halsey said Monday. “I’m still absorbing it.”
Joe Bonsall of the Oak Ridge Boys referred to Halsey as the group’s godfather and spiritual leader during a recent performance in Tulsa.
Bonsall sent this statement to the Tulsa World regarding the renaming of the arena:
“The 2,000-seat Memorial Hall in Independence Kansas has been a big part of Oak Ridge Boys history. This is because this town is a big part of our impresario manager Jim Halsey’s long history.
“After meeting Jim in 1975, he started booking dates for us and oft times over the years we would find ourselves booked in Jim’s original hometown as part of concerts and various celebrations and so we have performed many times at Memorial.
“On a sadder and personal note, when Jim’s son, Sherman, passed away, his funeral was held right there on that stage as well and yes, we were there.
“So how cool it was for us to be there last Saturday Night with our Down Home Christmas Tour when this old Memorial Hall was renamed the Jim Halsey Auditorium! What a night for Jim and for The Oaks to be together on that stage before the show as dignitary after dignitary celebrated our godfather. The next time we play Independence, Kansas, it will be at the Jim Halsey Auditorium. It all seems just right!”