Tuesday, March 10, 2009

'Grand Ole Opry' great Hank Locklin dies at 91

Hank Locklin -- the Grand Ole Opry star and singer of country music classics “Please Help Me, I’m Falling” and “Send Me The Pillow That You Dream On” — died Sunday at his home in Brewton, Ala. He was 91. Mr. Locklin sang in a tenor both pliant and unadorned, and his voice remained a powerful instrument throughout most of his life. Even in his late 80s, he sang his hits (and a thrilling cover of Irish standard “Danny Boy”) on the Opry stage and performed the songs in the keys in which they were initially recorded. Born in the Florida Panhandle town of McLellan in 1918, Mr. Locklin began playing the guitar at age 9, after an accident — he was hit by a school bus — left him bedridden. He made his radio debut at a Pensacola, Fla., station in the 1930s, and in the 1940s he and a band began working clubs and southern radio stations. Mr. Locklin’s recording career began in earnest in 1949, when he recorded “The Same Sweet Girl” for California-based Four Star Records. He also wrote “Send Me The Pillow That You Dream On” in 1949. Often, he’d play the song live on radio stations, and listeners would then mail their own pillows to him in care of the station. “The pillows started rollin’ in,” he told journalist Rich Kienzle, in a conversation recounted in the liner notes of Mr. Locklin’s RCA Country Legends CD. “Let Me Be The One” was Mr. Locklin’s first No. 1 country hit, in 1953. Two years later, he signed with RCA Victor in Nashville. Chet Atkins was a fan of Mr. Locklin’s voice, and Atkins began producing and playing guitar on Mr. Locklin’s sessions. At one of those sessions, Atkins recorded Mr. Locklin’s pillow song, which stalled at No. 5 on the Billboard country chart but which endured to become a much-covered composition: It would later be recorded by the Everly Brothers, Dwight Yoakam, Jerry Lee Lewis, Dean Martin, Dolly Parton and others...The Tennessean

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