Clarence Eugene (Hank) Snow (May 9, 1914 – December 20, 1999) was a Canadian country music artist. In his career, he charted more than seventy singles on the Billboard country charts from 1950 until 1980. This total includes the Number One hits "I'm Movin' On", "The Golden Rocket", "I Don't Hurt Anymore", "Let Me Go, Lover!", "I've Been Everywhere", and "Hello Love", as well as several more Top Ten hits.
Snow was born in Brooklyn, Queens County, 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 Victor in Montreal, Quebec. In 1936, he signed with RCA Victor, staying with them for more than 45 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" (modified from the nickname "Yodelling Ranger" given him before 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. The song, which stayed in the number 1 position for 21 weeks, holds the all time record for most weeks in the number 1 spot. While performing in Renfro Valley, Snow was walking with a young unknown performer by the name of Hank Williams when someone yelled out, "Hey, Hank," at which Williams turned around and Snow tapped Williams on the shoulder and said, "No, Hank, he means me." Hank remained Hank's idol for the rest of his career.
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. This song was originally written and performed in Australia by Geoff Mack, and its re-write incorporating North American place names was brilliantly accomplished. Rattling off a well-rhymed series of city names at an auctioneer's pace has long made the song a challenge for any country-music singer to attempt.
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. Snow used Elvis as his opening act, before introducing him to Colonel Tom Parker. In August 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, Snow became a naturalized citizen of the United States.
Performing in lavish and colourful sequin-studded suits, Snow had a career covering 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". That same year he performed at campaign stops on behalf of presidential candidate George Wallace.
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, Snow was a gifted songwriter and in 1978 was elected to Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. In Canada, he was ten times 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. He was also inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame in 1985.
In 1994 his autobiography, "The Hank Snow Story," was published, and later The Hank Snow Country Music Centre would open in Liverpool, Nova Scotia.
A victim of an abusive childhood, he set up the Hank Snow International Foundation For Prevention Of Child Abuse.
Snow died in Madison, Tennessee and was interred in the Spring Hill Cemetery in Nashville.
Elvis Presley, The Rolling Stones, Ray Charles, Ashley MacIsaac, Johnny Cash and Emmylou Harris, among 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. The song became Snow's seventh and final No. 1 hit on the Billboard magazine Hot Country Singles chart in April 1974. At 59 years and 11 months, he became the oldest (to that time) artist to have a No. 1 song on the chart. It was an accomplishment he held for more than 26 years, until Kenny Rogers surpassed the age record in May 2000 (at 61 years and nine months) with "Buy Me a Rose." Snow remains the second-oldest artist to have a No. 1 song as a solo or primary artist, though Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson have subsequently reached the top of the chart at older ages as secondary duet partners on records fronted by other artists.