mail0002.jpgThis picture was taken in 1989 at the Opryland Hotel studios of WSM. I took it myself.  I was pretty awed to be in the presence of Hank Thompson.  There’s a picture of me with him from this same day that I thought I had on me, but, don’t.  (Note to self…get it and scan it) These two guys went back a long, long way.  In fact, I can remember Dad telling of how when he first met Hank, he had braces on his teeth.

Hank died yesterday in Texas of Lung Cancer (yet another legend who was a little too fond of the smokes).  People think I’m the most fond of bluegrass type stuff, I guess cause of the Mr. and all, but, really….my favorite form of country/acoustic music…would have to be the sort that was done by Hank, Lefty, Bob Wills and the Texas bunch.  To me, nobody sang like Hank, looked like him…he was a unique artist in so many ways.  I mean, not many Country Music Hall of Famers can boast an Ivy League education. (He attended Princeton University). 

Hank was such a force in country music and I suspect many people don’t realize just how much of a maverick he was, especially because he was not a Nashville guy.  I don’t think he ever lived here and he was not an Opry member or anything like that…He was the first country artist to obtain a corporate sponsorship, the first country artist to travel with artistphotoid1262.jpgsound and lights, the first country artist to record a live album (“Hank Thompson: Live at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas in 1960)

Even at this point when I got to meet him in ’89, the man oozed charm and charisma.  I was totally smitten and remember having the same reaction to him as I did when I met George Strait. (Speechless).  I was able to see him perform a time or two and it was quite a thrill to hear him sing “Many months have come and gone since I wandered from my home in the Oklahoma Hills where I was born….” 

Hank’s hit recording of “The Wild Side of Life” spawned an “answer” song in the form of “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” making a Nashville homemaker named Muriel Deason a star and subsequently, a country legend that we know now as Kitty Wells.

You must listen to this clip of a live performance of Hank from Town Hall Party, a popular country music tv show based in Los Angeles in the 50’s and 60’s. My dad was an emcee for that show. I’m still looking for possible film footage of him on there but haven’t found it yet!  Oh and you must read this fabulous article on Hank written by my friend Ronnie Pugh.