Who was/is Hank Thompson ? - CDs, Vinyl LPs, DVD and more

Hank Thompson


Everything about Hank Thompson was modern. He was one of the first country singers to record on audio tape, the first to record a live album. For years, he flew his own plane to shows. Sick of dealing with crappy dancehall sound systems, he designed and built his own. Handed a coveted membership in the Grand Ole Opry in 1949, soured by the low pay and Nashville's musical conservatism, he quickly went back to his native Texas.

Actually, the Waco-born Thompson grew up favoring Gene Autry, the Carter Family, Vernon Dalhart, Jimmie Rodgers, Ernest Tubb and the Opry over the locally generated Western Swing of the Light Crust Doughboys and Milton Brown. After he got his first guitar in 1935 at age ten, his singing won so many amateur shows at the Waco Theater that by the time he was in high school, WACO gave him a Monday-Friday morning radio show as 'Hank The Hired Hand.' He did the final broadcast in January, 1943, the morning he left for the Navy. Home in 1946, studying toward a degree (and career) in electronics, he began playing Tubb-influenced honky tonk with his new band, the Brazos Valley Boys. By fall, he had his first regional hit, Whoa Sailor, on the local Globe label. A year later, after opening for Tex Ritter in Waco, Ritter recommended Hank to Capitol where Humpty Dumpty Heart became his first national hit in 1948.

Quick to adapt to changing realities, and aiming at the dancehall circuit, Hank directed guitarist Billy Gray to reinvent the Brazos Valley Boys as a danceable Western Swing-influenced outfit, minus the jazzy instrumental solos he never cared for. Dissatisfied with the small crowds he drew performing around Dallas, he relocated to Oklahoma City in 1951, by then boasting a sound as identifiable as Lefty Frizzell's or Ray Price's. He was blending his jovial honky tonk vocals with swing-flavored accompaniment. The band's high standards earned them awards for over a decade. From 1953 on, his buddy Merle Travis played on nearly all Hank's sessions and on a good many tours.

Hank's way with a ballad was apparent on his biggest hit, his 1952 cover of Jimmie Heap's The Wild Side Of Life, which inspired the answer song, It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels (Kitty Wells's first hit). He further demonstrated his ballad skills on I'll Sign My Heart Away and other numbers. Nonetheless, he made his reputation on upbeat bounces like Wake Up Irene, Rub-A-Dub-Dub, A Fooler A Faker, Honky Tonk Girl and A Six Pack To Go. His hits helped keep the Western Swing sound alive during the '50s and '60s when it was largely out of favor.

Jim Halsey, who became Hank's manager in 1952, brought new ideas to the table like Hank's longtime relationship with Falstaff Beer in a day when corporate sponsorship of country acts was rare. Halsey suggested Capitol record Hank onstage at the Golden Nugget in Vegas in 1961—making him the first country artist to record a live album. Hank parted ways with Capitol in 1964. After two years with Warner Bros., he spent 13 years with Dot/MCA, recording in Nashville. The Dot era brought a few major hits. Nonetheless, while reflecting on his recording career in the book accompanying Bear Family's Thompson box set, he concluded, "I’d play one of those Dot records then drop one of those old Capitols on, and it was all the difference in the world between the presence and quality of the Capitols and what Dot put out." The Country Music Hall Of Fame inducted him in 1989.


Hank, who settled in Keller, Texas, northwest of Dallas, remained on the road, performing with local bands after dissolving the Brazos Valley Boys. His later albums included 1997’s 'Hank Thompson And Friends,'an underpromoted all-star effort on Curb, and HighTone's far superior 'Seven Decades,' released in 2000. Like fellow Hall of Famer Porter Wagoner, he literally continued until the end. At times, he'd appear with the Brazos Valley Boys, who'd reformed as an independent band, and billed more recent shows as part of his 'Sunset Tour.' He headlined a show back in Waco on October 8, 2007, proclaimed by Texas' governor as 'Hank Thompson Day.' Late that month, doctors discovered fast-moving, terminal lung cancer. He announced his retirement November 4; two days later, he was gone. In lieu of a funeral, friends and fans assembled at Billy Bob's Texas in Fort Worth on November 14 to celebrate his remarkable life and career. In 2008, Bear Family will release a 33 track Thompson collection as part of its 'Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight' series.


More information about Hank Thompson on
Hank Thompson: The Pathways Of My Life 1966-86 (8-CD)
Art-Nr.: BCD17260

Item in stock

8-CD Box-Set (LP-size) with 128-page hardcover book, 246 tracks. Total playing time approx. 673 mns. This box set includes all his post-Capitol recordings for Warner Brothers, Dot, ABC, Churchill, and MCA/Dot during the twenty year period from 1966 through 1986....

Instead of:$186.38 * $149.10 *

Hank Thompson: A Six Pack To Go - Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight
Art-Nr.: BCD16803

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1-CD with 35-page booklet, 33 tracks. Playing time approx. 78 mns. Watch for renewed press attention for Hank Thompson following his death in November 2007. 33 of Hank Thompson's hottest honky tonkers from Capitol, inclusive Rockin' In The Congo ! Seven...

Instead of:$17.64 * $14.11 *

Hank Thompson: And His Brazos Valley Boys (12-CD)
Art-Nr.: BCD15904

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12-CD box (LP-size) with 84-page hardcover book, 329 tracks. Playing time approx. 856 mns. Copies of the 1996 Hank Thompson box have been changing hands for up to Dollar 500 on auction sites! That's good news if you want it and you have five hundred spare...

Instead of:$259.54 * $207.63 *

Hank Thompson: My Side Of Life: Biography by Warren Kice
Art-Nr.: 0020016

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(2007/THOMPSON) Paperback, English, 15x23 cm, 292 pages, rare b&w photos through the years. Foreword by Hank, October 2007.

$21.18 *

Hank Thompson: Hank The Hired Hand - Word And Music (2-CD)
Art-Nr.: CDET1030

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(2010/EL TORO) 24 tracks 1947-59 (Capitol material & OPS radio transcriptions).CD#2 is a France Radio Show (46:38) from 2001, where Hank talks about his career (incl. 1927-57 recordings by other artists played at the show) Highlight-Set for the millions of Hank...

Instead of:$11.74 * $9.39 *

Hank Thompson: At The Golden Nugget (Vinyl)
Art-Nr.: LPHAT3076

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(1980s/Stetson) 13 tracks, pure vinyl, rare reissue of the original 1961 Capitol album. Recorded live at the Golden Nugget in fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada! A Live Western Swing Party Album!

Instead of:$25.90 * $20.72 *

Hank Thompson: Call Of The Country (LP Album)
Art-Nr.: LPECS50054

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(Capitol-Japan) 14 tracks, Capitol-Series! Rare Japanese vinyl edition!

Instead of:$29.44 * $23.55 *

Hank Thompson: In The Mood For Hank
Art-Nr.: CDJAS3509

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CD on JASMINE RECORDS by Hank Thompson - In The Mood For Hank

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Hank Thompson: 20 Greatest Hits
Art-Nr.: CDTVC0744

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(2005/GUSTO) 20 tracks (50:33) Gusto/King re-recordings 1979.

Instead of:$17.58 * $14.06 *

Hank Thompson: In The Studio, On The Road (LP)
Art-Nr.: LPSEE263

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(1989/See For Miles) 26 tracks - Rare 'See For Miles' LP with Capitol recordings from 1956 to 1966, including 14 live tracks, recorded at the 'Texas State Fair' in 1963!

Instead of:$17.64 * $14.11 *

Hank Thompson: Collectors Series (LP)
Art-Nr.: LPEMS1349

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(1989/Capitol) 20 tracks - Rare and hard-to-find Capitol UK pressing! All recordings were made between 1947 and 1960!

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Hank Thompson: Treasures (& Brazos Valley Boys)
Art-Nr.: CDHOTR131

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(2008/HEART OF TEXAS) 20 tracks (48:44) unreleased! 1952 recordings from the Thompson Family vaults. Superb Swing & Honky Tonk material in stunning sound quality./ Unveröffentlichte Aufnahmen von 1952, überragendes Material, überwiegend in 'Capitol' Sound Qualität -...

Instead of:$11.74 * $9.39 *

Hank Thompson: The Quintessential Hank Thompson 1948-79
Art-Nr.: CDRV300

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(2009/RAVEN) 30 tracks, multi label collection (Capitol/Dot/MCA) with 12 page booklet.

Instead of:$15.28 * $12.22 *

Hank Thompson: Songs For Rounders (1958) - 160g Vinyl(Rmst)
Art-Nr.: LPRGM0029

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A Landmark Country Album Released In Its Original Format. One Of The Most Notorious Album Covers In All Of Popular Music. Includes 11'x11' Full-Color Insert With Original Front Cover Album Art. Liner Notes By Grammy-Winning Writer Colin Escott. Remastered By Maria...

Instead of:$23.54 * $18.83 *

Hank Thompson: Previously Unissued 1952 Airshots (LP)
Art-Nr.: LPRFD9003

Currently not available

(1990/Interstate) 16 tracks - radio recordings from 1952! Rare LP!

Instead of:$17.64 * $14.11 *