Folksinger, educator, and marine biologist Sam Hinton was born March 21, 1917 in Tulsa, OK; raised largely in Texas, after graduating high school he studied zoology at Texas A&M, helping fund his education via singing appearances. In 1936 he won a Major Bowes' Amateur Hour competition, leaving school to tour the country with the Bowes troupe; finally settling in Los Angeles three years later, Hinton enrolled at UCLA, concurrently landing a role in the musical comedy Meet the People alongside then-unknowns including Virginia O'Brien and Nanette Fabray. After graduating in 1940, Hinton was appointed director of the Desert Museum in nearby Palm Springs, three years later moving on the position of curator with the Scrippps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California at San Diego; despite his professional duties, he continued performing, and in 1947 recorded the album Buffalo Boy and the Barnyard Song for the Library of Congress.
Hinton's first commercial recording, "Old Man Atom," followed on Columbia in 1950; over the next several years he also made a number of singles for Decca's Children's Series, and in 1952 issued his first LP, Folk Songs of California. After three more efforts for Decca -- 1955's Singing Across the Land, 1956's A Family Tree of Folk Songs, and 1957's The Real McCoy -- he moved to Folkways for 1961's Whoever Shall Have Some Peanuts and 1967's The Wandering Folksong. None of Hinton's musical projects distracted him from his academic duties, however, and from 1948 onward he taught UCSD courses in biology and folklore; for the National Education Television network, he also hosted a 13-part series on folk music, and for several years even wrote a regular newspaper column, The Ocean World, for The San Diego Union. Hinton additionally co-wrote two books on marine research, Exploring Under the Sea and Common Seashore Animals of Southern California. Sam Hinton died in Northern California on September 10, 2009 at the age of 92. ~ Jason Ankeny