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Hank Thompson

Hank Thompson was perhaps the most popular Western swing musician of the '50s and '60s, keeping the style alive with a top-notch band, tremendous showmanship, and a versatility that allowed him to expand his repertoire into romantic ballads and hardcore honky tonk numbers. Born September 3, 1925, in Waco, TX, Henry William Thompson was the son of immigrants from Bohemia and grew up idolizing Western swing and country musicians like Bob Wills, Jimmie Rodgers, and Gene Autry. He began learning harmonica and guitar as a child, and appeared in local talent shows as a teenager, which eventually led to his own local radio program (billed as Hank the Hired Hand). After graduating from high school in 1943, Thompson joined the Navy as a radio technician and often wrote songs to entertain his fellow soldiers. Following his discharge, Thompson studied electrical engineering at Princeton through the G.I. Bill, but eventually decided to pursue music as a career. He returned to Waco and to the radio business, and set about putting together a band he dubbed the Brazos Valley Boys. They quickly became a popular live act around the area and recorded their first single, "Whoa Sailor" (a song Thompson had written in the Navy) for the Globe label in 1946. A few more singles followed for Bluebonnet, by which time Tex Ritter had become a Thompson admirer. Ritter helped Thompson land a record deal with Capitol in 1947, an association that would last for the next 18 years.

Thompson scored his first major hit for Capitol in 1949 with the smash "Humpty Dumpty Heart," the biggest of his six charting singles that year. In 1951, he hooked up with producer Ken Nelson, who would helm many of his most successful records. Those records included "The Wild Side of Life," a monster hit from 1952 (over three months at number one) that became Thompson's signature song. Its cynical attitude inspired an answer record by Kitty Wells called "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels," which made her the first female artist in country music history with a million-selling record. Thompson continued to score hit after hit during the '50s, including 21 songs that reached the Top 20 on the country charts and five Top Tens in the year 1954 alone. A savvy promoter, Thompson devised a number of ways to make himself stand out from the crowd (even past his suave cowboy wardrobe): his early-'50s television show in Oklahoma City was the first variety show broadcast in color and he was the first country artist to tour with a sound and lighting system (put together using his Navy and collegiate experience), the first to receive corporate sponsorship, and the first to record in high-fidelity stereo. He also gave early breaks to musicians like guitar legend Merle Travis and female rockabilly pioneer Wanda Jackson. Toward the end of the '50s, Thompson began to create LPs that were more cohesive than just mere collections of singles plus filler; 1958's Dance Ranch and 1959's Songs for Rounders were Western swing/honky tonk masterpieces, especially the latter, which stirred up controversy with its groundbreakingly adult (some said decadent) lyrical content. In 1961, Thompson recorded the first live album ever released in the history of country music, the classic At the Golden Nugget.

After that burst of inspired creativity, Thompson's luck began to change: the public's taste was moving toward slick country-pop and the electrified Bakersfield sound and despite several more fine records, Thompson's relationship with Capitol ended in 1965. He first moved to Warner Bros., then ABC/Dot in 1968 (which became part of MCA in 1970). Thompson continued to record and tour and his singles charted regularly during the '70s all the way up to 1983, though he never matched the level of success he'd enjoyed in the '50s and early '60s. Even after the hits dried up, Thompson maintained a demanding concert tour schedule, playing all over the world. He was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1989. ~ Steve Huey
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Hank Thompson & His Brazos Valley Boys

Disc 1

1. Swing Wide Your Gate Of Love

2. Whoa Sailor

3. California Women

4. What Are We Gonna Do About The Moonlight

5. A Lonely Heart Knows

6. Starry Eyed Texas Gal

7. Humpty Dumpty Heart

8. Today

9. Don't Flirt With Me

10. Rock In The Ocean

11. My Heart Is A Jigsaw Puzzle

13. Yesterday's Mail

14. I Find You Cheatin' On Me

15. Second Hand Gal

17. You Broke My Heart (In Little Bitty Pieces)

19. You Remembered Me

21. The Green Light

22. What Are We Gonna Do About The Moonlight

23. All That Goes Up Must Come Down

24. Standing On The Outside Looking In Now

25. Tomorrow Night

26. My Front Door Is Open

27. Soft Lips

28. Swing Wide Your Gate Of Love

29. Whoa Sailor

30. Grass Looks Greener Over Yonder

31. She's A Girl Without Any Sweetheart

Disc 2

1. Take A Look At This Broken Heart Of Mine

2. Give A Little, Take A Little

3. A Cat Has Nine Lives

4. Beautiful Texas

5. Daddy Blues

6. How Do You Feel

8. Humpty Dumpty Boogie

9. Can't Feel At Home In This World Anymore

10. When God Calls His Children Home

11. If I Cry

12. A Broken Heart & A Glass Of Beer

15. Where Is Your Heart Tonight

16. Those Things Money Can't Buy

17. Hangover Heart

19. You Were The Cause (Of It All)

20. I'll Be Your Sweetheart For A Day

21. Love Thief

23. The Wild Side Of Life

24. Waiting In The Lobby Of Your Heart

26. Cryin' In The Deep Blue Sea

27. The New Wears Off Too Fast

29. It's Better To Have Loved A Little

30. How Cold Hearted Can You Get

Disc 3

1. How Cold Hearted Can You Get

2. Rub-A-Dub-Dub

3. I'd Have Never Found Somebody New

4. Where My Sweet Baby Used To Walk

5. I'll Sign My Heart Away

6. Yesterday's Girl

7. John Henry

8. The Letter Edged In Black

9. Mother The Queen Of My Heart

10. At The Rainbow's End

11. When You're Lovin', You're Livin'

12. You Don't Have The Nerve

13. I Saw My Mother's Name

14. No Help Wanted

15. Go Cry Your Heart Out

16. Wake Up, Irene

17. A Fooler, A Faker

18. Breakin' The Rules

19. We've Gone Too Far

20. If Lovin' You Is Wrong

21. Tears Are Only Rain

22. Annie Over

23. This Train

24. The Little Rosewood Casket

25. Gloria

26. Honky-Tonk Girl

27. Jersey Bounce

28. Sunrise Serenade

Disc 4

1. When Your Love Burns Low

2. A New Deal Of Love

3. Baby I Need Lovin'

4. I'd Do It Again

5. Dusty Skies

6. A Lonely Heart Knows

7. The New Green Light

8. Tomorrow Night

9. Today

10. Simple Simon

11. Most Of All

12. Breakin' In Another Heart

13. Too In Love

14. String Of Pearls

15. Big Beaver

16. Panhandle Rag

17. Wildwood Flower

18. Honey, Honey Bee Ball

19. Quicksand

21. Don't Take It Out On Me

23. Westphalia Waltz

24. Don't Be That Way

25. It Makes No Difference Now

26. Anybody's Girl

28. I'm Not Mad, Just Hurt

29. The Blackboard Of My Heart

31. Weeping Willow

Disc 5

1. Prosperity Special

2. I'll Be Your Sweetheart For A Day

3. Under The Double Eagle

4. Don't Flirt With Me

5. Standing On The Outside Looking In Now

6. My Front Door Is Open

7. Swing Wide Your Gate Of Love

8. Humpty Dumpty Heart

9. Whoa Sailor

10. I Find You Cheatin' On Me

11. The Grass Looks Greener Over Yonder

12. You Remembered Me

13. You'll Be The One

14. I Don't Want To Know

15. Someone Can Steal Your Love From Me

16. Old Napoleon

17. I Was The First One

18. Rockin' In The Congo

19. Hang Your Head In Shame

20. The Gypsy

21. Don't Get Around Much Anymore

22. I Didn't Mean To Fall In Love

23. A Girl In The Night

24. Don't Look Now (But Your Broken Heart Is Showing)

25. Bubbles In My Beer

26. Headin' Down The Wrong Highway

27. Drivin' Nails In My Coffin

28. Lawdy, What A Gal

29. After All The Things I've Done

30. Make Room In Your Heart (For A Memory)

Disc 6

1. I Wouldn't Miss It For The World

2. Klishama Klingo

5. Just An Old Flame

6. How Do You Hold A Memory

7. Beaumont Rag

8. Summit Ridge Drive

9. Woodchopper's Ball

10. Bartender's Polka

11. Wednesday Waltz

12. Gold & Silver Waltz

13. Skater's Waltz

14. Fifty Year Ago Waltz

15. La Zinda Waltz

16. The Anniversary Waltz

17. Let Me Call You Sweetheart

18. What Will I Do On Monday

19. You're Going Back To Your Old Ways Again

20. I've Run Out Of Tomorrows

21. Shenandoah Waltz

22. Signed, Sealed & Delivered

23. In The Valley Of The Moon

24. The Warm Red Wine

25. Squaws Along The Yukon

Disc 7

1. Little Blossom

2. Deep Elem

3. Rovin' Gambler

4. Cocaine Blues

5. May I Sleep In Your Barn Tonight Mister?

6. I'll Be A Bachelor Till I Die

7. Three Times Seven

10. Teach 'Em How To Swim

11. Drunkard's Blues

12. Dry Bread

13. Lost John

14. I Guess I'm Getting Over You

15. What Made Her Change

16. Total Strangers

17. Just One Step Away

21. Love Thief

23. Soft Lips

24. Cryin' In The Deep Blue Sea

25. Hangover Heart

26. How Do You Feel

27. Those Things Money Can't Buy

28. Give A Little, Take A Little

29. Rock In The Ocean

Disc 8

1. Take A Look At This Broken Heart Of Mine

2. She's A Girl Without Any Sweetheart

3. A Fooler, A Faker

4. Six Pack To Go

5. Will We Start It All Over Again

6. She's Just A Whole Lot Like You

7. There My Future Goes

8. Too In Love

9. Teach Me How To Lie

11. It's My Fault

12. I'd Like To Tell You

13. I'll Be Around

15. I Dreamed Of An Old Love Affair

16. Sing Me Something Sentimental

17. Paying Off The Interest With My Tears

18. I Keep Meeting Girls Like You

19. My Old Flame

20. Just A Little While

22. I Gotta Have My Baby Back

23. Oklahoma Hills

24. Hangover Tavern

25. Honky Tonk Town

27. How Many Teardrops Will It Take

28. Drop Me Gently (So My Heart Won't Break)

Disc 9

3. I Cast A Lonesome Shadow

4. San Antonio Rose

5. Detour

9. The Wild Side Of Life

10. Yesterday's Girl

14. Back Street Affair

17. I Wasn't Even In The Running

18. The Luckiest Heartache In Town

19. Whatever Happened To Mary

20. Twice As Much

21. Just To Ease The Pain

23. Stirring Up The Ashes

Disc 10

1. Paper Doll

2. There's No You

3. You Always Hurt The One You Love

4. September In The Rain

6. That's All There Is To That

7. Breakin' In Another Heart

8. How Do You Hold A Memory

9. Don't Take It Out On Me

10. I'd Have Never Found Somebody New

11. It's Better To Have Loved A Little

12. Just An Old Flame

16. In The Back Of Your Mind

17. Here Comes Santa Claus

18. Gonna Wrap My Heart In Ribbons

19. It's Christmas Every Day In Alaska

20. Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town

21. Blue Christmas

22. Silver Bells

23. It's Christmas Time

24. I'd Like To Have An Elephant For Christmas

25. White Christmas

26. Little Christmas Angel

27. Mr & Mrs Snowman

28. Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer

29. We Wish You A Merry Christmas

Disc 11

2. Honky-Tonk Girl

3. I Guess I'm Getting Over You

4. I'll Step Aside

5. Orange Blossom Special

6. I Didn't Mean To Fall In Love

7. John Henry

8. Nine Pound Hammer

9. She's Just A Whole Lot Like You

10. Have I Told You Lately That I Love You

11. Steel Guitar Rag

12. Just One Step Away

13. Lost Highway

14. A Six Pack To Go

16. Annie Over

17. Drop Me Gently (So My Heart Won't Break)

19. Rose City Chimes

21. Oklahoma Hills

24. Hangover Tavern

25. I'll Sign My Heart Away

26. Teach Me How To Lie

27. Cincinnati Lou

Disc 12

3. My Heart Is A Playground

5. How Many Teardrops Will It Take

6. The New Wears Off Too Fast

7. Rub-A-Dub-Dub

9. Beautiful Texas

10. Will We Start It All Over Again

12. I Cast A Lonesome Shadow

13. Simple Simon

14. There's A Little Bit Of Everything In Texas

x

Track List: Greatest Songs, Vol. 2

1. Oklahoma Hills

2. Rub-A-Dub-Dub

3. Waiting In The Lobby Of Your Heart

4. The Blackboard Of My Heart

5. Whoa Sailor

6. Breakin' The Rules

7. Anybody's Girl

8. That's What Sells The Wine

9. Tears Are Only Rain

10. A Girl In The Night

x

Track List: Greatest Songs, Vol. 1

1. Wild Side Of Life

2. Most Of All

3. A Fooler, A Faker

4. A Six Pack To Go

5. Green Light

6. Yesterday's Girl

7. Squaws Along The Yukon

8. Honky Tonk Girl

9. Humpty Dumpty Heart

10. Find Her Keep Her

x

Track List: A Six Pack To Go

1. A Six Pack To Go

2. Honky Tonk Town

3. Hangover Heart

4. Beer Barrel Polka

5. Drunkard's Blues

6. Bubbles In My Beer

7. Hangover Tavern

8. The Wild Side Of Life

9. Bartender's Polka

10. Anybody's Girl

11. Warm Red Wine

12. A Broken Heart And A Glass Of Beer

Comments

Report as inappropriate
rturney102
Suggested album play: An old love Affair; Breakin' In Another Heart
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YOWZAH !! Thatz pretty special ! Gettin recognized, from dancin, that's sayin somethin.Pre t t y good old music. I've not been 2 good @ bein a bachelor, but then I DEFINITELY COULD'VE BEEN A BETTER HUSBAND !! DANG ! HALLELUJAH !! @LEAST there's PLENTY OF GOOD MUSIC 2 GO AROUND, ...round these Pandora-part s . . .
Report as inappropriate
beverlykeena n 2 0 0 2
I wore a hat all my young years and most later ones. I could never figure how Hank Thompson kept that hat on the back of his head. I could figure he had a special bump or talent but his band all wore their hats the same way!!
Report as inappropriate
beverlykeena n 2 0 0 2
I danced many miles to his music in auditoriums in Kansas and Oklahoma. Imagine my surprise and pleasure when he showed up in Laramie, Wyoming and recognized me on the dance floor.
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������������
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Hello��
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Real country and western music
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Yee Haw
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@TXMarine1.. . S e m p e r Fidelis!
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When I talk about Hank it's Hank Thompson. In not a huge fan of Hank Williams. He's ok but I've never been able to get excited about Williams. Hank Thompson is different. I could be slightly biased since I lived most of my younger life outside of Waco, TX.
Report as inappropriate
Great sound, wonderful singer...nev e r heard too much about him.
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Hank Thompson is rather underated. He had great music and a terrific voice. Would love to hear " Six Pack To Go & Humpty Dumpty Heart! "
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Play Smoke Smoke That Cirgarette
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Ray Benson is good but he was not born in Texas.
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Who came up with these lyrics for Wild Side of Life? WRONG!!!
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One OF GREAT Ones, Another Hank
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yee haw I'll have one six pack to go
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agreed with pandd below, unfortunatel y country music doesn't make them like this anymore...
Report as inappropriate
Hank Thompson played several times at the Enlisted Club it NAAS Kingsville, kingsville,T e x a s . Sponsored by Falstaff beer and a very small venue. Must have been his connection with the Navy.1957-19 5 9 .
Report as inappropriate
Hank Thompson played several times at the Enlisted Club it NAAS Kingsville, kingsville,T e x a s . Sponsored by Falstaff beer and a very small venue. Must have been his connection with the Navy.1957-19 5 9 .
Report as inappropriate
one of Bill O'Donnell's favorites
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the squaws along the yukon are good enough for me
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somehow i am related to Hank Thompson,i was actually born in Brozos in 1955,i think somehow he was related on my moms side,but at the same time my dad is from oklahoma . i heard alot about tex Ritter as a child,soppos e d l y a bunch of these country stars including tex ritter Hank Snow and hank Thompson sang at my grandmothers funeral. Dont know if any of this is true but i sure would like to know my family's background as i dont know very much about our family's past.
Report as inappropriate
montorr
Best country singer in my life time.
Report as inappropriate
He's got a rich, unique, and up-beat sound. I always feel good listening to his music.
Report as inappropriate
arlene429
I have listened to Hank Thompson and Ray Price since I was a kid. There is just nothing like them to me. I love their music.
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panddl
They don't make 'em like Hank anymore...!
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richardallen w r i g h t
clean
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he's made 80 or more lps i hope you have most of them
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i grew up listening to singers like hank , many gone by the wayside moon mullican was big down here in east texas.ron in lufkn
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dennis.savag e 5
i like the old crying in the beer music
Report as inappropriate
gvargo
I like that old time Honky Tonkin' music!
Report as inappropriate
this lucky pig was weened on this wonderful music.
Report as inappropriate
dukehaus
The very best.. Hank had the music...and all it took to make him a legend
Bill..Cheyen n e
Report as inappropriate
hollentf
Ya gotta count Ray Benson as a favorite son. That makes three.
Report as inappropriate
Ole Hank was good,like the smile he always had on his face,that was one of things he never let go of..play it pretty Hank..
Report as inappropriate
There are 2 favorite sons of Texas that I am aware of. One is Bob Wills, the other is Hank Thompson.
Report as inappropriate
hendrybrothe r s
I LIKE HANK THOMPSON, ESPECIALLY HIS INSTRUMENTAL S .

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