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Gene Austin (June 24, 1900 – January 24, 1972) was an American singer and songwriter, one of the first "crooners". His 1920s compositions "When My Sugar Walks Down the Street" and "The Lonesome Road" became pop and jazz standards.
Austin was born as Lemeul Eugene Lucas in Gainesville, Texas (north of Dallas), to Nova Lucas (died 1943) and the former Serena Belle Harrell (died 1956). He took the name "Gene Austin" from his stepfather, Jim Austin, a blacksmith. Austin grew up in Minden, the seat of Webster Parish in northwestern Louisiana, located east of Shreveport. In Minden, he learned to play piano and guitar. He ran away from home at 15 and attended a vaudeville act in Houston, Texas, where the audience was allowed to come to the stage and sing. On a dare from his friends, Austin took the stage and sang for the first time since singing as a Southern Baptist choir boy. The audience response was overwhelming, and