"I realized I'd never be able to play my style of music in Nashville. . . . They didn't allow any electric instruments. They didn't allow drums. They didn't allow horns. And where was I gonna work up there? Down in Texas I knew all these bars and honky-tonks where I could get work, because by then I was playing dance music." - Hank ThompsonWe couldn't find Hank's Rockin' in the Congo as a video, so we pulled up this somewhat "Around the World"-related tune, Whoa, Sailor, instead.
The King of Honky-Tonk Swing, Hank Thompson had a sixty-year career singing about booze, babes, and generally raisin' hell. Over a twenty-year period, from 1948 to 1978, Thompson had 28 Top-10 hits. His backup band, the Brazos Valley Boys, was Billboard magazine's top-ranked Western swing band from 1953 to 1965.
As a high school student in the early 1940s, Thompson hosted a Waco radio show, billing himself as "Hank the Hired Hand." After his discharge from the Navy following WW II, Thompson returned to radio and had a regional hit in Texas with his recording of Whoa Sailor.
In 19 and 52, incidentally the year Your Host was born, Hank would have his first national #1 single, The Wild Side of Life, a song which contained the memorable line, "I didn't know God made honky-tonk angels." That sentiment would end up launching Kitty Wells career, who protested in a reply song, It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels, that cheatin' husbands were leading girls astray rather than the Good Lord.
Thompson hosted a television variety show in Oklahoma City from 1954 to 1957, which was the first music variety show to be broadcast in color. He was also the first country-western performer to record a live album in Vegas, Live at the Golden Nugget. He was, however, no fan of the Grand Ole Opry, as his quote that opens this article notes.
With a man whose repertoire included A Six-Pack to Go and Bubbles in My Beer it's no wonder that one of Hank Thompson's TV sponsors was Falstaff Beer, once one of the biggest-selling labels in the U.S., but gone where the wild goose goes in 2005. In our continuing "Commercial Affiliation" sub-theme, here's a video of Hank endorsing Falstaff.
Sources: Washington Post obituary; Wikipedia