Johnnie High, a north Texas country music showman who gave such performers LeAnn Rimes and Boxcar Willie their early exposure, has died at the age of 80.
High's daughter, Luanne Dorman, says her father died Wednesday after battling heart disease.
The impresario of "Johnnie High's Country Music Revue" began his Saturday show in 1974 after converting an old movie theater in Grapevine, a Dallas-Fort Worth suburb, into the Grapevine Opry. There, he gave Boxcar Willie and Rimes, then a child, some of their first stage experience.
Since 1995, High's revue has been a weekly fixture at a former Arlington movie theater that later served as a Jehovah's Witness Kingdom Hall. It now airs nationally in syndicated television.