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Hank Locklin

Hank Locklin (born Lawrence Hankins Locklin), one of country music's great tenors, was born February 15, 1918, in the small town of McLellan, located in the lumbering district of the Florida Panhandle. The youngest son of four children, he went to a one-room schoolhouse and was musical even as a young child. Locklin was injured at the age of eight in an accident and the long recovery process was the time when he first begin to learn music. Although interested in the guitar early on, it wasn't until his mid-teens that he really began to master that instrument. Locklin was active in music in high school (which he never finished), and at 18 won first prize in a talent show. He went on to do spots on the local radio station as he became more and more interested in entertaining. By the mid-'40s he was playing on the radio and doing in-person performances in Florida and nearby states. For the next ten years or so, Locklin worked many jobs (musical and otherwise), played with a variety of groups, and through a variety of trials, gradually worked his way up the country music ladder to recognition. (A good account of these years can be found in the Bear Family box set liner notes, written by Otto Kitsinger.)

Locklin was exempted from military service due to his old leg injury, and during World War II he began playing guitar in various bands around Mobile, Alabama, and also started singing and writing songs. His vocal style was originally influenced by Ernest Tubb, but he later began developing his own approach to singing. Late in the War, he joined Jimmy Swan's dance band as a guitarist -- whose ranks included Hank Williams sitting in occasionally -- and he spent much of 1945 and 1946 playing gigs across the Southeast, from Florida to Alabama.

It was Locklin's association with a group called the Four Leaf Clover Boys that led to the formation of his first group. In the wake of their breakup, Locklin formed the Rocky Mountain Playboys in 1947. The group's lineup later changed radically, but it was this original outfit -- Locklin on vocals and guitar, Clint Holmes on rhythm guitar, "Tiny" Smith on bass, Felton Pruett on steel guitar, and Douglas "Dobber" Johnson playing fiddle -- that got Locklin his first break. They were popular on the radio, and were sponsored by wealthy businessman Elmer Laird, who was also a songwriter. Laird proposed starting a record label around Locklin and the group with his songs, but he died in a stabbing incident on the eve of Locklin's first recording session.

They soldiered on, recording for Gold Star and later Royalty without much success, and eventually the band broke up (Holmes and Pruett hooked up with Hank Williams soon after). Locklin ended up based in Houston and signed to Four Star, where he had his first major regional hits with such songs as "The Same Sweet Girl" and "Send Me the Pillow That You Dream On." In those days, Locklin's sound was that of Texas-style dance band, and lacked the smooth, romantic commercial veneer of his later Nashville-based recordings for RCA. In 1953, he finally achieved national recognition with a number one country hit, "Let Me Be the One." His success, however, was still sporadic, particularly in the face of an awkward contractual arrangement that had Locklin recording for Decca but belonging to Four Star and largely restricted to recording Four Star-owned songs. This didn't change until 1955.

His career took off when he joined the RCA Victor label in the spring of 1955. Locklin's work with RCA has the added advantage that almost all of it was produced by Chet Atkins, often with Atkins himself on rhythm or lead guitar and with the added trills and fill-ins of Floyd Cramer on piano. The extreme simplicity of his early works makes the combination of his clear voice and these particular sidemen very effective. Everyone knows Locklin's big hits -- "Send Me the Pillow That You Dream On" (written by Locklin), "Geisha Girl," and "Please Help Me I'm Falling" -- but real fans are in love with his very simple heartfelt tunes like "Who Am I to Cast the First Stone," "A Good Woman's Love," "Seven or Eleven," "I'm Tired of Bummin' Around," "Golden Wristwatch," "Sitting Alone at a Table for Two," and many others. These early songs are characterized by Locklin's crystal-clear tenor, the ultra-simplicity of the songs themselves, and their straight-to-the-heart emotional plea. (Kitty Wells has this same kind of gift.) The result is a group of incredible songs that, first released as singles, later became available on Camden, RCA's budget label. After many years of neglect, many of these songs became available on the Bear Family box set Please Help Me I'm Falling. Locklin stayed with the RCA label until the mid-'70s.

Locklin helped pioneer the idea of concept albums; his albums Foreign Love and Irish Songs, Country Style are examples. He also recorded an album tribute to Roy Acuff, A Tribute to Roy Acuff, King of Country Music. His Irish songs are pretty near definitive. As time goes by, the vocal chorus begins to creep into the Locklin albums a little more than purists might like, but his crystal-clear tenor never deserts him.

Locklin hit the Top Ten charts again in the 1968 with "The Country Hall of Fame." In the 1970s he toured overseas often, was very popular in Ireland and Great Britain, and made at least one tour with Chet Atkins to Japan. After leaving RCA, he went on to record for a number of labels including MGM and Plantation, and his final album, his 65th, The Grace of God: The Gospel Album, appeared in 2006. Locklin retired and lived in Brewton, Alabama, only some 20 miles from his birthplace, until his death on March 8, 2009. ~ Michael Erlewine
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Send Me The Pillow You Dream On: 48Golden Memories

Disc 1

1. The Same Sweet Girl

2. You've Been Talking In Your Sleep

3. Knocking At Your Door

4. Born To Ramble

5. Send Me The Pillow You Dream On

6. Crazy Over You

7. Midnight Tears

8. It's So Hard To Say I Love You

9. You Burned A Hole In My Heart

10. Pinball Millionaire

11. Come Share The Sunshine With Me

12. No One Is Sweeter Than You

13. To Whom It May Concern

14. The Holy Train

16. I Could Love You Darling

Disc 2

1. Rio Grande Waltz

2. Who Do You Think You're Fooling

3. I Always Lose

4. Stumpy Joe

5. Down Texas Way

6. Picking Sweethearts

7. Shadows

8. Let Me Be The One

9. The Red Rose

10. Mysteries Of Life

11. Empty Bottles, Empty Heart

12. I'll Always Be Standing By

13. Your Heart Is An Island

14. Who Am I To Cast The First Stone

15. You're Out Of Step (With The Beat Of My Heart)

16. These Ruins Belong To You

Disc 3

1. Why Baby Why

2. Love Or Spite

3. A Good Woman's Love

4. I'm A Fool

5. Seven Or Eleven

6. You Can't Never Tell

7. She's Better Than Most

8. How Much

9. (I'm So Tired Of) Going Home All By Myself

10. The Rich And The Poor

11. By The Sweat Of My Brow

12. Fourteen Karat Gold

13. Geisha Girl

14. Livin' Alone

15. Why Don't You Haul Off And Love Me

x

Track List: By The Grace Of God: The Gospel Album

1. Gloryland Way

2. Right Out Of A Clear Blue Sky

3. Bottle (For The Cross)

4. Whole Lot Of Love (To Go Home To)

5. When The Saints Go Marching In

6. Amazing Grace

7. My Valley

8. Turn On To Jesus

9. My Soul Is Strong

10. Sweet Loving Word

11. Today Has Already Come To Pass

12. My Savior's Arms

13. Church Behind The Wall

14. Wisdom And Knowledge

15. I Praise The Lord

16. From Thorns To Feathers

17. Are The Seeds Still In The Barn

18. Have A Little Talk With Jesus

19. Just A Closer Walk With Thee

20. Nothing But The Blood Of Jesus

21. Lead Me Gently Home

22. Milky White Way

x

Track List: RCA Country Legends

1. Why Baby Why

2. Geisha Girl

3. Livin' Alone

4. Send Me The Pillow That You Dream On

5. It's A Little More Like Heaven

6. Blue Grass Skirt

7. Please Help Me I'm Falling

8. One Step Ahead Of My Past

9. From Here To There To You

10. Happy Birthday To Me

11. Happy Journey

12. We're Gonna Go Fishin'

13. Followed Closely By My Teardrops

14. The Country Hall Of Fame

15. Danny Boy

16. Bonaparte's Retreat

x

Track List: Please Help Me I'm Falling

1. Please Help Me I'm Falling

2. It's A Little More Like Heaven

3. Flying South

4. I Was Coming Home To You

5. Geisha Girl

6. Daytime Love Affair

7. We're Gonna Go Fishing

8. From Here To There To You

x

Track List: Please Help Me I'm Falling (4-CD Set)

Disc 1

1. Your Heart Is An Island

2. Who Am I To Cast The First Stone

3. You're Out Of Step (With The Beat Of My Heart)

4. These Ruins Belong To You

5. A Good Woman's Love

6. I'm A Fool

7. Love Or Spite

8. Why Baby Why

9. Seven Or Eleven

10. You Can't Never Tell

14. How Much

15. (I'm So Tired Of) Going Home All By Myself

16. The Rich And The Poor

17. By The Sweat Of My Brow

18. Fourteen Karat Gold

19. Livin' Alone

20. Send Me The Pillow You Dream On

21. Why Don't You Haul Off And Love Me

25. Geisha Girl

26. Fraulein

27. Blue Grass Skirt

28. Filipino Baby

29. Foreign Love

30. Lili Marlene

31. Mexicali Rose

32. My Wild Irish Rose

Disc 2

1. Blue Hawaii

2. Mademoiselle

3. Anna Marie

4. Foreign Love Affair

5. The First Time

6. It's A Little More Like Heaven

7. Simple Things

8. I Gotta Talk To Your Heart

9. The Other Side Of The Door

10. Paper Face

11. The Upper Room

12. That Inner Glow

13. Foreign Car

14. When The Band Plays The Blues

15. Border Of The Blues

16. Hiding In My Heart

17. Blues In Advance

18. Seven Days (The Humming Song)

19. Second Fiddle

20. Please Help Me I'm Falling

21. My Old Hometown

22. One Step Ahead Of My Past

23. Toujours Moi (Always Me)

24. You Only Want Me When You're Lonely

25. The Same Sweet Girl

26. Oh How I Miss You (Since You Went Away)

27. Let Me Be The One

28. From Here To There To You

29. This Song Is Just For You

Disc 3

1. Jealous Heart

2. One Has My Name (The Other Has My Heart)

3. I Can't Stop Loving You

4. Johnny My Love (Grandma's Diary)

5. You're The Reason

6. The Keeper Of The Keys

7. Happy Birthday To Me

8. I Can See An Angel

9. Happy Journey

10. I Need You Now

11. Welcome Home, Mister Blues

12. We're Gonna Go Fishin'

13. Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer

14. All The World Is Lonely Now

15. We Live In Two Different Worlds

16. Waltz Of The Wind

17. The Great Speckled Bird

18. Pins And Needles (In My Heart)

19. As Long As I Live

20. Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain

21. Maple On The Hill

22. Wabash Cannonball

23. The Wreck On The Highway

24. A Precious Jewel

25. Once More

26. Heading Down The Wrong Highway

27. Mansion On The Hill

28. They'll Never Take Her Love From Me

29. I Love You Because

30. Bummin' Around

31. Slowly

Disc 4

1. Kentucky Waltz

2. Candy Kisses

3. Rosalita

4. Wishing On A Star

5. Flyin' South

6. Behind The Footlights

7. Sweet Temptation

8. A Little Bit Lonesome

9. Ivory Tower

10. Too Close To Her (And Too Far From You)

11. Followed Closely By My Teardrops

12. It Keeps Right On A Hurtin'

13. You Never Want To Love Me

14. Wooden Soldier

15. Kiss On The Door

16. Galway Bay

17. Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral (That's An Irish Lullaby)

18. My Wild Irish Rose

19. Danny Dear

20. Danny Boy

21. When Irish Eyes Are Smiling

22. Forty Shades Of Green

23. If We Only Had Old Ireland Over Here

24. A Little Bit Of Heaven

25. The Old Bog Road

26. Kevin Barry

27. I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen

28. I Was Coming Home To You

29. I Feel A Cry Coming On

31. Hello Heartache

Comments

Report as inappropriate
mgootie
It is a shame he was not elected into the Country Hall of Fame....neve r could understand why not.
Report as inappropriate
Love Geisha Girl by Hank Locklin
Report as inappropriate
Tingling Timelessness , remembering a past life that adds strength and regerates a beautiful energy in my soul! Thank you so much.
Report as inappropriate
@dc8av8erky. . . y o u got that right!
Report as inappropriate
True country will never grow old! It is timeless... It's so full of memories and always tells a story.
Report as inappropriate
Real country no doubt..need more like em
Report as inappropriate
This album is re-recording s done with a 60-year-old Locklin. Does not sound near as good as the originals
Report as inappropriate
This. What country is all about not that rapcrap they call county now days
Report as inappropriate
one of the best,
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True country!
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Country hall of fame
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Mighty fine!
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bemrick92
How could country have been better than Hank? He was great!
Report as inappropriate
frogman60us
Let me be the one was the song that sold me on Hank!
Report as inappropriate
witchazelwoo d
Country music gets no better than Hank singing "Please Help Me I'm Falling." Our loss is heaven's gain.
Report as inappropriate
gourmetmama2 8
I have loved Hank Locklin since I was 6 years old!
Report as inappropriate
nice voice.
Report as inappropriate
Good ole country boy. Now in "country Heaven"
Report as inappropriate
Hank died March 8th, 2oo9.
Such a great loss.
Report as inappropriate
If it is country you want, you got it with Hank Locklin.

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