Hank Thompson (musician)
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Hank Thompson in 1966.
|Birth name||Henry William Thompson|
|Born||September 3, 1925|
Waco, Texas, U.S.
|Died||November 6, 2007 (aged 82)|
Keller, Texas, U.S.
|Genres||Country, western swing|
|Associated acts||Tex Ritter, Ernest Tubb, Hank Williams, Billy Walker, Ken Nelson, George Jones, Wanda Jackson, Junior Brown|
Henry William Thompson (September 3, 1925 – November 6, 2007) known as Hank Thompson, was an American country music singer-songwriter and musician whose career spanned seven decades.
His backing band, The Brazos Valley Boys, was voted the top Country Western Band for 14 years in a row by Billboard. The primary difference between his music and that of Bob Wills was that Thompson, who used the swing beat and instrumentation to enhance his vocals, discouraged the intense instrumental soloing from his musicians that Wills encouraged; however, the "Hank Thompson sound" exceeded Bob Wills in Top 40 country hits.
Although not as prominent on the top country charts in later decades, Thompson remained a recording artist and concert draw well into his 80s.
The 1987 novel Crazy Heart by Thomas Cobb was inspired by Thompson's life, specifically by his practice of picking up a local band to back him when he toured. In 2009 Cobb's novel was turned into a successful film directed by Scott Cooper and starring Academy Award winner Jeff Bridges.
Born in Waco, Texas, Thompson was interested in music from an early age and won several amateur harmonica contests. He decided to pursue his musical talent after serving in the United States Navy in World War II as a radioman and studying electrical engineering at Princeton University before his discharge. He had intended to continue those studies on the GI Bill following his 1946 discharge and return to Waco. Later that year, after having regional hits with his first single "Whoa Sailor" for Globe Records, Dallas (Globe 124) and almost simultaneously "California Women" for another Dallas label (Blue Bonnet 123), he chose to pursue a full-time musical career.
1952 brought his first No. 1 single, "The Wild Side of Life," which contained the memorable line "I didn't know God made honky-tonk angels". (This line inspired songwriter J. D. "Jay" Miller to write the answer song "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels", which became the first hit single for pioneer female country vocalist Kitty Wells.) Other hits for Thompson followed in quick succession in the 1950s and 1960s.
Thompson began singing in a plaintive honky tonk style similar to that of Ernest Tubb, but, desiring to secure more engagements in the dance halls of the Southwest, he reconfigured his band, the Brazos Valley Boys, to play a "light" version of the Western swing sound that Bob Wills and others made famous, emphasizing the dance beat and meticulous arrangements.
From 1947 to 1965, he recorded for Capitol Records, then joined Warner Bros. Records, where he remained from 1966 through 1967. From 1968 through 1980, he recorded for Dot Records and its successors, ABC Dot and MCA Records. In 1997, Thompson released Hank Thompson and Friends, a collection of solo tracks and duets with some of country music's most popular performers. In 2000, he released a new album, Seven Decades, on the Hightone label. The title reflected his recording history during the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s.
Thompson was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1989 and was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1997. He continued touring throughout the U.S. until shortly before he became ill. Often, he worked with a reconstituted version of the Brazos Valley Boys that included a few original members.
Retirement and death
Thompson's last public performance had been on October 8, 2007, in his birthplace of Waco, Texas. Like many men of his generation, Thompson had been a smoker for most of his adult life, and had been admitted into a Texas hospital in mid-October for shortness of breath. After having been diagnosed with a particularly aggressive form of lung cancer, Thompson canceled the rest of his 2007 "Sunset Tour" on November 1, 2007, two days after being released, and retired from singing. He then went into hospice care at his home in Keller, Texas and lost his battle with the disease five days later on November 6, 2007, aged eighty-two.
According to his spokesman Tracy Pitcox, also president of Heart of Texas Records, Thompson requested that no funeral be held. On November 14, a "celebration of life," open to both fans and friends, took place at Billy Bob's Texas, a Fort Worth, Texas country and Western nightclub that bills itself as The World's Largest Honky Tonk.
|1952||Hank Thompson Favorites||—||Capitol|
|1955||Songs of the Brazos Valley||—|
|North of the Rio Grande||—|
|1956||New Recordings of Hank Thompson's All-Time Hits||—|
|1958||Hank Thompson's Dance Ranch||—|
|1959||Favorite Waltzes by Hank Thompson||—|
|Songs for Rounders||—|
|1960||Most of All||—|
|This Broken Heart of Mine||—|
|1961||An Old Love Affair||—|
|At the Golden Nugget||—|
|1962||The No. 1 Country & Western Band||—|
|Cheyenne Frontier Days||—|
|1963||The Best of Hank Thompson||—|
|At the State Fair of Texas||—|
|1964||Golden Country Hits||6|
|It's Christmas Time with Hank Thompson||—|
|1965||Breakin' in Another Heart||18|
|Luckiest Heartache in Town||17|
|1966||A Six Pack to Go||19|
|Breakin' the Rules||22|
|Where Is the Circus||6||Warner|
|1967||The Best of Hank Thompson Vol. 2||34||Capitol|
|The Countrypolitan Sound||—||Warner|
|The Gold Standard Collection of Hank Thompson||42|
|Just an Old Flame||—||Capitol|
|1968||Hank Thompson Sings the Gold Standards||—||Dot|
|On Tap, In the Can, Or in the Bottle||42|
|1969||Smoky the Bar||16|
|Hank Thompson Salutes Oklahoma||38|
|1971||Next Time I Fall in Love (I Won't)||22|
|Hank Thompson's 25th Anniversary Album||24|
|1972||Cab Driver (A Salute to the Mills Brothers)||10|
|Hank Thompson's Greatest Hits Vol. 1||34|
|1973||Kindly Keep It Country||22|
|1975||Sings Nat King Cole||—|
|1976||Back in the Swing of Things||48|
|1977||The Thompson Touch||—|
|Doin' My Things||—|
|1978||Brand New Hank||—||ABC|
|1980||Take Me Back to Tulsa||—||MCA|
|1982||One Thousand and One Nighters||—||Churchill|
|1988||Here's to Country Music||—||Step One|
|1997||Real Thing: Hank Thompson and Friends||—||Curb|
|1948||"Humpty Dumpty Heart"||2||—||—||singles only|
|1949||"What Are We Gonna Do About the Moonlight"||10||—||—|
|"I Find You Cheatin' on Me"||14||—||—|
|"You Broke My Heart (In Little Bitty Pieces)"||15||—||—|
|"The Grass Looks Greener Over Yonder"||15||—||—|
|1952||"The Wild Side of Life"||1||27||—||Hank Thompson Favorites|
|"Waiting in the Lobby of Your Heart"||3||—||—|
|"The New Wears Off Too Fast"||10||—||—||singles only|
|1953||"You're Walking On My Heart"||—||21||—|
|"No Help Wanted"||9||—||—|
|"Rub-a-Dub-Dub"||1||—||—||Songs of the Brazos Valley|
|"Wake Up, Irene"||1||—||—||singles only|
|1954||"Breakin' the Rules"||10||—||—|
|"A Fooler, A Faker"||9||—||—|
|"We've Gone Too Far"||10||—||—|
|"The New Green Light" (re-recording)||3||—||—|
|1955||"If Lovin' You Is Wrong"||12||—||—|
|"Wildwood Flower" (with Merle Travis)||5||—||—|
|"Breakin' In Another Heart"||7||—||—|
|"Most of All"||6||—||—|
|"Don't Take It Out on Me"||5||—||—|
|"Honey, Honey Bee Ball"||flip||—||—|
|1956||"The Blackboard of My Heart"||4||—||—|
|"I'm Not Mad, Just Hurt"||14||—||—|
|1957||"Rockin' In the Congo"||13||—||—|
|"I Was the First One"||flip||—||—|
|"Tears Are Only Rain"||14||—||—|
|1958||"How Do You Hold a Memory"||11||—||—|
|"Squaws Along the Yukon"||2||—||—|
|"I've Run Out of Tomorrows"||7||—||—|
|1959||"You're Going Back to Your Old Ways Again"||26||—||—|
|"I Didn't Mean to Fall in Love"||22||—||—||At the Golden Nugget|
|1960||"A Six Pack to Go"||10||102||—|
|"She's Just a Whole Lot Like You"||14||99||—|
|1961||"Oklahoma Hills"||7||—||—||Cheyenne Frontier Days|
|"Teach Me How to Lie"||25||—||—|
|1962||"I Cast A Lonesome Shadow"||—||—||single only|
|1963||"I Wasn't Even in the Running"||23||—||—||Luckiest Heartache in Town|
|"Too in Love"||22||—||—||single only|
|1964||"Twice as Much"||45||—||—||Luckiest Heartache in Town|
|1965||"Then I'll Start Believing in You"||42||—||—|
|1966||"Pick Me Up on Your Way Down"||—||134||—||Golden Country Hits|
|"Where Is the Circus"||15||—||—||Where Is the Circus|
|1967||"He's Got a Way with Women"||16||—||—||On Tap, In the Can, Or in the Bottle|
|1968||"On Tap, In the Can, Or in the Bottle"||7||—||12|
|"Smoky the Bar"||5||—||9||Smoky the Bar|
|1969||"I See Them Everywhere"||47||—||—|
|"The Pathway of My Life"||46||—||—||Next Time I Fall in Love (I Won't)|
|"Oklahoma Home Brew"||60||—||—||Hank Thompson Salutes Oklahoma|
|1970||"But That's All Right"||54||—||—||Next Time I Fall in Love (I Won't)|
|"One of the Fortunate Few"||69||—||—|
|1971||"Next Time I Fall in Love (I Won't)"||15||—||36|
|"The Mark of a Heel"||18||—||18|
|"I've Come Awful Close"||11||—||19||Hank Thompson's 25th Anniversary Album|
|1972||"Cab Driver"||16||—||13||Cab Driver (A Salute to the Mills Brothers)|
|1973||"Roses in the Wine"||70||—||—||single only|
|"Kindly Keep It Country"||48||—||45||Kindly Keep It Country|
|1974||"The Older the Violin, The Sweeter the Music"||8||—||4|
|"Who Left the Door to Heaven Open"||10||—||12||Moving On|
|1975||"Mama Don't 'Low"||29||—||—|
|"That's Just My Truckin' Luck"||70||—||—||single only|
|"Mona Lisa"||—||—||—||Sings Nat King Cole|
|1976||"Asphalt Cowboy"||72||—||—||single only|
|"Big Band Days"||86||—||—||Back in the Swing of Things|
|1977||"Honky Tonk Girl" (re-recording)||91||—||—|
|"Just an Old Flame"||92||—||—||The Thompson Touch|
|1978||"I'm Just Gettin' By"||92||—||—||Brand New Hank|
|1979||"Dance with Me Molly"||88||—||—|
|"I Hear the South Callin' Me"||29||—||47|
|1980||"Tony's Tank-Up, Drive-In Cafe"||32||—||42|
|"You're Poppin' Tops"||—||—||—||Take Me Back to Tulsa|
|"King of Western Swing"||—||—||—|
|1981||"Rockin' in the Congo" (re-recording)||82||—||—||One Thousand and One Nighters|
|"Driving Nails in My Coffin"||—||—||—|
|1983||"Once in a Blue Moon"||82||—||—||single only|
|1988||"Here's to Country Music"||—||—||—||Here's to Country Music|
|1997||"Gotta Sell Them Chickens" (with Junior Brown)||—||—||—||Hank Thompson and Friends|
|1997||"Gotta Sell Them Chickens" (w/ Junior Brown)||Jim Gerik|
- Academy of Country Music
- List of country musicians
- Country Music Association
- List of best-selling music artists
- Inductees of the Country Music Hall of Fame (1989 Inductee)
- Cobb, Thomas (1987). Crazy Heart. San Francisco: Harper & Row. ISBN 0-06-015803-4.
- Lewis, Randy (2009-12-28). "Hank Thompson: 'Crazy Heart's' real-life Bad Blake". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-04-04.
- "Honky Tonk Great Hank Thompson Dies" - Associated Press, 7 November 2007
- Rosen, Jody (June 25, 2019). "Here Are Hundreds More Artists Whose Tapes Were Destroyed in the UMG Fire". The New York Times. Retrieved June 28, 2019.
- Whitburn, Joel (2011). Top Pop Singles 1955–2010. Record Research, Inc. p. 893. ISBN 0-89820-188-8.
- Rumble, John. (1998). "Hank Thompson". In The Encyclopedia of Country Music 1st edition 1998. Paul Kingsbury, Editor. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 536–7.