Hank Snow (May 9, 1914 - December 20, 1999), better known as Hank Snow, was a Hall of Fame country music singer and songwriter.
Snow was born in Brooklyn, Nova Scotia, Canada. When he was 14, he ordered his first guitar from Eaton's catalogue for $5.95, and played his first show in a church basement in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia at the age of 16. He then travelled to the nearest big city, Halifax, where he sang in local clubs and bars. A successful appearance on a local radio station led to his being given a chance to audition for RCA Records in Montreal, Quebec. In 1936, he signed with RCA Records, staying with them for more than forty-five years.
A weekly Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) radio show brought him national recognition and he began touring Canada until the late 1940s when American country music stations began playing his records. He headed to the "Country Music Capital of the World", Nashville, Tennessee, and Hank Snow, the "Singing Ranger" (a nickname modified from the Yodelling Ranger when his high voice changed to the baritone that graced his hit records) would be invited to play at the Grand Ole Opry in 1950. That same year he released his mega-hit, "I'm Movin' On". The first of seven Number 1 hits on the country charts, "I'm Movin' On" stayed at Number 1 for nearly half a year.
Along with this hit, his other 'signature song' was I've Been Everywhere, in which he portrayed himself as a hitchhiker bragging about all the towns he'd been through. Rattling off a well-rhymed series of city names at an auctioneer's pace, the song has long been a challenge for any country-music singer to attempt. Johnny Cash's version of it was used in recent years as the soundtrack to an American motel chain's television commercials.
A regular at the Grand Ole Opry, in 1954 Hank Snow persuaded the directors to allow a new singer by the name of Elvis Presley to appear on stage. He used Elvis as his opening act, before introducing him to Colonel Tom Parker. In August of 1955, Snow and Parker formed the management team, "Hank Snow Attractions". This partnership signed a management contract with Presley but before long, Snow was out and Parker had full control over the rock singer's career.
In 1958, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States.
Performing in lavish and colourful sequin-studded suits, his career covered six decades during which he sold more than 80 million albums. Although he became a proud American citizen, he still maintained his friendships in Canada and remembered his roots with the 1968 Album, "My Nova Scotia Home".
In Robert Altman's 1975 film Nashville, Henry Gibson played a self-obsessed country star loosely based on Hank Snow.
Despite his lack of schooling, he was a gifted songwriter and in 1978 was elected to Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. In Canada, ten times he was voted that country's top country music performer. In 1979, Hank Snow was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Nova Scotia Music Hall of Fame.
In 1994 his autobiography, "The Hank Snow Story," was published, and later The Hank Snow Country Music Centre in Liverpool, Nova Scotia would open.
The victim of an abusive childhood, he set up the "Hank Snow International Foundation For Prevention Of Child Abuse".
Snow died in Madison, Tennessee in the United States and was interred in the Spring Hill Cemetery in Nashville.
Elvis Presley, The Rolling Stones, Ray Charles, Ashley MacIsaac, Johnny Cash and Emmylou Harris, amongst others, have covered his music. One of his last top hits, "Hello Love," was, for several seasons, sung by Garrison Keillor to open each broadcast of his Prairie Home Companion radio show.