Our venue has a lot of history and to be aware of it will help you understand how special being at Six Shooter Saloon really is. It all started with the Westerneer Ballroom and was later Sooner Corral
The Sooner Corral was a bustling nightclub featuring diverse music and entertainment. At one time it was known as the Westerneer Ballroom. It was first owned by Bill A. Mays and his wife. There is argument as to when the exact date it was built, but between 1948-1952 is when it was constructed. There is also debate as to whether or not an airplane hanger existed in the location before the Westerner. Many famous names have come and gone from the Westerneer. It was mainly country and western entertainment, dancing, and beer. They featured the likes of Elvis, Dolly Parton, Toby Keith, Johnny Cash, Conway Twitty, etc. pre-stardom. The Westerner was featured in 3 movies and 7 television shows over the years.
During the weekdays when he wasn't running the Westerneer or performing and traveling with his band, Mays worked in an insurance agency. He has helped build a couple of agencies, he said.
Eventually, the Westerneers had to quit TV.
"When things got high-class, we couldn't compete," he said. "We weren't trying to go to Nashville or sell records. We just wanted to have fun."
But Mays was still playing in front of a camera. He's made seven movies such as "This Stuff'll Kill Ya" and "The Year of the YaHoo."
"They're called low-budget movies," said Norma Jean.
Tim Holtz starred in "This Stuff'll Kill Ya." It was his last movie. He died of cancer shortly afterwards.
But Mays has happy memories of the 1971 film, which involved white lightning.
The movie was filmed in Oklahoma City and Checotah. Its cast included drama students from OU and Chicago. When someone wouldn't show up for his portion of the filming, Mays filled in.
When he wasn't performing his role, he was composing music or working as associate producer. Once he had to blow up a car himself after the stuntman refused to work with live ammunition.
"I had to be careful how I played these parts, or else the audience would recognize me," he said.
Mays has met many entertainers through the years, including George Jones, Willie Nelson, Claude King, Kenney Rogers, Ray Price and June Carter. Long ago, Merle Haggard played bass at the Westerneer for Buck Owens' Band. Barbara Mandrell played at The Westerneer nearly six years ago.
"She came up here in her bus, and her family was on board. Her son got my daughter interested in playing drums," Mays said.
After spending the last five years traveling in their motor home, visiting the Bahamas and staying at their home in Red River, N.M., Bill and Norma Jean are back at the Westerneer.
"I think this (The Westerneer) has to stay," he said. "It's a part of history like the Cains' in Tulsa.
"I wouldn't change a thing. We're not trying to make a fortune out of this. We just want a place for people to go and have a good time. We just want the atmosphere back."
Mays credits Norma Jean for his success.
"She's an angel. She's the boss. I wouldn't be alive now if it wasn't for her," he said.
None of the couple's four children drink or smoke, despite the fact that their parents have run a ballroom all these years, said Mays. Much to his amazement, one son only sings gospel.
"I'm pretty lucky. Never dreamed of ever being anything big. Just wanted to have fun and enjoy country music," Mays said. "Country western just gets in your system."