Hank Garland

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Hank Garland
Hank Garland.jpg
Background information
Birth nameWalter Louis Garland
Born(1930-11-11)11 November 1930
Cowpens, South Carolina, U.S.
Died27 December 2004(2004-12-27) (aged 74)
Orange Park, Florida, U.S.
GenresJazz,[1] country,[1] rock
Years active1946–1961

Walter Louis Garland (11 November 1930 – 27 December 2004), professionally Hank Garland, was an American guitarist and songwriter. He started as a country musician, played rock and roll as it became popular in the 1950s, and released a jazz album in 1960. His career was cut short when a car accident in 1961 left him unable to perform.

2008 saw the release of the Hank Garland biopic Crazy.


Born in Cowpens, South Carolina,[2] Garland began playing guitar at the age of six, and began to appear on local radio shows at 12. At 14 he moved to Spartanburg, South Carolina where he met Don Reno who gave Hank guitar lessons, and worked with him on the WSPA-FM station in Spartanburg, both playing lead guitar. [3]

He moved to Nashville at age 16, staying in Ma Upchurch's boarding house, where he roomed with Bob Moore and Dale Potter. At age 18, he recorded his million-selling hit "Sugarfoot Rag". He appeared on the Jubilee program with Grady Martin's band and on The Eddy Arnold Show. Garland is perhaps best known for his Nashville studio work with Elvis Presley from 1958 to 1961 which produced such rock hits as: "I Need Your Love Tonight", "A Big Hunk o' Love", " I'm Coming Home", "I Got Stung", "A Fool Such As I", "Stuck on You", "Little Sister", "(Marie's The Name) His Latest Flame", and "I Feel So Bad". He worked with many country music and rock and roll musicians of the late 1950s and early 1960s, such as Patsy Cline, Brenda Lee, Mel Tillis, Marty Robbins, The Everly Brothers, Boots Randolph, Roy Orbison, Conway Twitty, and Moon Mullican.

Garland's guitar drove such classic recordings as Little Jimmy Dickens' "I Got a Hole in My Pocket"; Benny Joy's "Bundle of Love" and "I'm Gonna Move"; Jimmy Lloyd's (recorded under pseudonym of (Jimmie Logsdon) "You're Gone Baby" and "I've Got a Rocket in My Pocket"; Lefty Frizzell's "You're Humbuggin' Me"; Simon Crum's "Stand Up, Sit Down, Shut Your Mouth"; and Johnnie Strickland's (1935-1994) "She's Mine"; plus, seasonal staples "Jingle Bell Rock" with Bobby Helms, and Brenda Lee's seasonal "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree". Don Gibson's "Sweet Sweet Girl" and "Don't Tell Me Your Troubles"; Patsy Cline's "Let the Teardrops Fall"; Ronnie Hawkins' "Jambalaya"; and Faron Young's "Alone with You" spotlighted Garland's guitar work.

He played with George Shearing and Charlie Parker in New York and went on to record Jazz Winds from a New Direction[4] with Gary Burton on vibraphone, Joe Benjamin on double bass, and Joe Morello on drums. That session took place in Nashville in 1960.

That same year, Garland, along with other members of the Nashville "A-Team" of session players, was invited to perform at the Newport Jazz Festival. For years, these musicians unwound by playing jazz after hours at Nashville's Carousel Club. The group included Gary Burton on vibes, guitarist Chet Atkins, pianist Floyd Cramer, saxophonist Boots Randolph, bassist Bob Moore, drummer Buddy Harman and African-American violinist Brenton Banks, who played in the string sections that adorned many Nashville recordings. RCA Victor had a mobile recording unit there to record their performance, but when rioting prematurely ended the festival, the group performed (with the tapes rolling) on the porch of the mansion where they were staying. The album was released as After the Riot in Newport.

At the request of Gibson Guitar company president Ted McCarty, Garland and guitarist Billy Byrd influenced the design of the Byrdland guitar, which derived from the Gibson L-5, having a slimmer body and shorter scale for ease of playing.[5]

In September 1961, a car crash left Garland in a coma.[3] He regained consciousness and recovered with the help of his wife, Evelyn, and two daughters (Cheryl & Debra), but the brain injury sustained from the car accident, left him unable to return to the studios. After Evelyn died at the age of 38 in a car crash in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on December 2, 1965, Garland's parents took care of him until their deaths. He then went to live with his brother, Billy.

Garland suffered from constant ill health in his later years and died in Orange Park, Florida on December 27, 2004, of complications from a staph infection. He was 74 years old. He is interred in Jacksonville Memory Gardens in Orange Park.


As leader[edit]

  • Velvet Guitar (Harmony, 1960)
  • After the Riot at Newport with the Nashville All-Stars (RCA Victor, 1961)
  • Jazz Winds from a New Direction (Columbia, 1961)
  • The Unforgettable Guitar of Hank Garland (Columbia, 1962)
  • Hank Garland and His Sugar Footers (Bear Family, 1992)
  • Subtle Swing (Sundazed, 2004)

As sideman[edit]


  1. ^ a b Prown, P.; Newquist, H.P.; Eiche, J.F. (1997). Legends of Rock Guitar: The Essential Reference of Rock's Greatest Guitarists. H. Leonard. p. 125. ISBN 9780793540426. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  2. ^ Ginell, Richard S. "Hank Garland". AllMusic. Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Guitarist Hank Garland Dies". Billboard. 28 December 2004. Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  4. ^ Ginell, Richard S. "Jazz Winds from a New Direction". AllMusic. Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  5. ^ Duchossoir, Andre R. Gibson Electrics: The Classic Years. Hal Leonard Corp. pp. 57–60. ISBN 0-7935-9210-0.


  • Kienzle, Rich (1998). "Hank Garland". In The Encyclopedia of Country Music. Paul Kingsbury, Editor. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 194–5.
  • Hank Garland Biography
  • Nashville Sound

External links[edit]