On The Fringe
Clarence Eugene ("Hank") Snow was born in the sleepy fishing village of Brooklyn, Queens County, on Nova Scotia's beautiful South Shore, on May 9th 1914. His parents divorced when he was eight years old and he was forced to stay with his grandparents. He was not allowed to visit his mother, so he regularly sneaked out at night and walked the railroad tracks to Liverpool where his mother was living. Not willing to return to his grandparents, who would often beat him, he would sometimes seek shelter in Liverpool's railway station.
Both his parents had musical talent and Hank picked up his basic guitar-playing skills from his mother.
At the age of 14 he left to work as a deck-hand on fishing schooners based out of Lunenburg. With his first earned income he bought his first guitar, a T. Eaton Special for $5.95. He entertained friends and neighbors and quickly developed excellent skills as a musician and entertainer at kitchen parties and neighborhood picnics.
His professional career started at CHNS Radio in Halifax in 1934. Throughout the 30s and 40s he toured the Maritimes and Western Canada playing at county fairs and local radio stations.
On September 2nd 1935 Hank Snow married Minnie Aalders, who stayed with Hank through all the hard, traveling years and beyond, until today. Hank and Minnie had one son together, Jimmie Rodgers Snow, who also traveled with them and eventually joined Hank on stage on numerous occasions.
In 1936 he made his first recording in Montreal with RCA Victor's Bluebird lable and signed a contract that would last 47 years, the longest continuous contract in the history of the recording industry.
The man known as Hank, the singing Ranger, made his way down South and had his first appearance at WWVA Jamboree in 1945. Here he acquired his trained horse Shawnee, whose tricks and daredevil stunts with Hank endeared them to audiences.
Ernest Tubb invited Hank to the Grand Ole Opry on January 7, 1950. He performed at the Opry for 46 years. His first few appearances received only luke-warm appreciation, until he wrote and recorded the song "I'm Movin' On", which became the top country song of 1950 and still holds the country music record for number of consecutive weeks at the number one chart position. This enabled him to finally buy the family's first home, the Rainbow Ranch, where Minnie still lives today, just outside of Nashville.
In 1954 another top country song of the year followed, Hank's "I Don't Hurt Any More".
In the early fifties Hank discovered a young singer, in his mind a country singer, who just emphasized the beat a little more. The young talent's name was Elvis Presley, and Hank took him on as an opening act, and later invited him to the Grand Ole Opry and introduced him to Colonel Parker who eventually became Elvis' manager.
Hank Snow sold over 70 million records in his career that spanned 78's, 45's, extended 45's, LP's, 8-tracks, cassettes and compact discs.
Throughout his life he recorded over 100 LPs, including everything from hit parade material to gospel, train songs, instrumentals ( alone and with Chet Atkins ), tributes to Jimmie Rodgers and the Sons of the Pioneers, and recitations of Robert Service poems. He has always kept a warm spot in his heart for Nova Scotia, and he paid homage with his album "My Nova Scotia Home". He also recorded "Squid Jiggin' Ground" in honor of the fishermen he sailed with out of Lunenburg in his early youth.
His recordings were released in England, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and elsewhere.
He entertained troops during the Korean and Vietnam wars as well as in Germany and Norway.
Because he never forgot his troubled childhood he established the Hank Snow Foundation for abused children. He supported many foster children from around the world. He also dedicated a wonderful children's playground on the site of his parents former home in Brooklyn, Nova Scotia.
At one time Hank operated a music school in Nashville, a publishing house in New York and owned two radio stations.
He has been elected to eight different Halls of Fame, including the Country Music Hall of Fame of the United States of America (1979), The Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Canadian Country Music Hall of fame and the Nova Scotia Music Hall of Fame. He also was voted Canada's top country performer ten times.
When he was sixty-one, he had the hit song "Hello Love" and thus holds the record of being the oldest country performer ever to have a number one hit.
Prime Minister Trudeau and President Carter, as well as a number of state Governors and Premier Buchanan honored Mr. Snow at various times. In May 1994 he received an honourary doctorate from St. Mary's University, Halifax, Nova Scotia.
His biography, "The Hank Snow Story," is a personal record of the difficulties of his early years, his rise to success and his participation in a number of remarkable events.
From Hank Snow's Official Website.
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