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Hank Snow, An Amazing Success Story

Does anyone remember country music singer Hank Snow? I should think many folks who read this column have enjoyed the performances of that talented singer, yodeler and guitarist. Much of his music was hard driving, up-tempo renderings.
I was in Nashville a few years ago and secured a guided tour of the homes of some of the most prominent country music stars and at the end of the tour I remarked to the guide that Snow wasn’t mentioned or his home featured during the tour. “He has retired from performing,” the guide answered, “he decided he would retire while he still had reasonable good health.” So while I saw several of the stars’ homes, I never saw Hank Snow’s place of abode.
Snow, along with several other country music performers including Ernest Tubb, was a great admirer of the popular Jimmie Rodgers, also known as “The Blue Yodeler.” As you may remember, Rodgers was one of the acts along with The Carter Family that was recorded in Bristol in what is now know as The Bristol Sessions in 1927-28. Those recordings were a great influence on the country music industry.
Clarence Eugene (Hank) Snow was born in 1914 in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. At a young age he ran away from home to escape from his stepfather who mistreated him. He went to sea where he worked on fishing trawlers. Reportedly, after two weeks of hard work unloading salt from a freighter, he made six dollars, enough to purchase a guitar by mail order. After a measure of success in Canada, Snow began to tour in the United States in the mid ‘40s. He appeared on the Wheeling Jamboree in West Virginia and the Big D Jamboree in Dallas, Texas.
He made his debut at the Grand Old Opry in January of 1950 due in large part to the influence of his friend Ernest Tubb. After getting traction as a seasoned performer he had a prolific career, recording a great number of songs and performing in many venues across the U. S. In Snow’s 45-year recording career, he sold an estimated 70 million records and influenced performers from Elvis Presley to Bob Dylan.
In the 1950s and 1960s Snow had several hit records. “The Golden Rocket,” “Rhumba Boogie,” I Don’t Hurt Anymore,” I’ve Been Everywhere,” “A Fool Such As I,’ and “Bluebird Island,” were some of his greatest recording successes. Snow was popular outside the United States in countries such as Britain, Australia and in the Far East. After he became a regular on The Opry, he never left it. Many folks looked forward to hearing his mellow baritone voice and his virtuosity on the guitar each Saturday night on the Opry. He didn’t disappoint. Hank Snow died December 20, 1999 in Nashvillle.