Born 28 December 1933, near Kickapoo, Peoria County, Illinois, USA. He first played piano and sang as a child, before teaching himself the guitar, being inspired by Jimmie Rodgers. He served in the US Air Force, where he pursued his interest in country music.
During his service career, he won several awards from the American Red Cross for his work entertaining in hospitals. He began writing songs and in 1958, one, a tribute to Rodgers, led to him meeting the latter’s widow, Carrie. Impressed by Hanlon, she encouraged him and introduced him to Ernest Tubb, who offered him appearances on his radio shows and took him on some tours.
In 1961, he guested on Tubb’s Midnight Jamboree, singing ‘Boy With A Future’ (after Tubb’s death, Hanlon showed his appreciation of his help by recording the tribute ‘E.T. We’re Missing You’). His easy singing style and the occasional yodel saw him go on to play the Grand Ole Opry and form his own band, the Midwest Playboys, with whom he toured extensively in the 60s. He had various single releases between 1964 and 1978, although none charted.
Between 1987 and 1994, he completed 10 very successful European tours that saw him play various venues in Ireland, Scotland and Scandinavia. His Irish ancestry has helped him become especially popular in Ireland, where his song ‘The Calling (Home)’ has been recorded by Irish country singers, including Sean Cuddy.
In January 1993, he underwent open-heart surgery but surprised everybody with his speedy return to his personal appearance commitments. He devotes a great deal of time entertaining for the Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Organisation in America and for the handicapped, both in America and Ireland.
JERRY HANLON in "Oldies But Goldies"-blog.