Remembering Hank Snow, the country star who helped discover Elvis Presley

27 July 2023, 14:59

Hank Snow helped discover Elvis Presley
Hank Snow helped discover Elvis Presley. Picture: Alamy

By Tom Eames

Hank Snow was arguably the biggest singer in North America in the early 1950s, but he sound found himself being replaced by a younger upstart he helped discover.

The legendary country singer appears as a character in the upcoming Elvis Presley biopic Elvis from director Baz Luhrmann.

Played by actor David Wenham in the film, Hank Snow is depicted as something of a fuddy-duddy who didn't approve of this new upstart called Elvis Presley who had begun to upstage him while out on tour.

But was this actually the case?

  1. Who was Hank Snow?

    Hank Snow - I'm Moving On

    Hank Snow was a Canadian-American country singer.

    He was most popular in the 1950s, and had a career that spanned over 50 years.

    He recorded 140 albums, and had over 85 singles in the Billboard country charts from 1950 to 1980.

    His number-one hits include 'I'm Moving On', 'The Golden Rocket' and 'The Rhumba Boogie', plus versions of 'I Don't Hurt Anymore', 'Let Me Go, Lover!', 'I've Been Everywhere', and 'Hello Love'.

    Hank was a prolific songwriter who was known for his baritone voice, often singing songs about freedom and love.

    Hank Snow in 1970
    Hank Snow in 1970. Picture: Getty

    The singer suffered a tough childhood, enduring extreme poverty, beatings and psychological abuse, plus heavy labour during the Great Depression.

    However, his music-focused mother gave him the emotional support to pursue his dream of becoming a famous entertainer like his hero, country star Jimmie Rodgers.

    He won various awards and is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.

  2. What was his relationship with Elvis Presley?

    Hank Snow with Elvis
    Hank Snow with Elvis. Picture: Alamy

    Hank Snow had become a regular at the Grand Ole Opry, and in 1954 he persuaded the directors to bring on a young Elvis Presley to appear on stage.

    Hank then used Elvis as his opening act, and introduced him to Colonel Tom Parker.

    In 1955, Snow and Parker formed the management team, Hank Snow Attractions, together.

    This partnership signed a management contract with Elvis, but it wasn't long before Parker took full control.

    40 years after leaving Parker, Hank said: "I have worked with several managers over the years and have had respect for them all except one. Tom Parker was the most egotistical, obnoxious human being I've ever had dealings with."

  3. When did he retire and pass away?

    Hank Snow in 1980
    Hank Snow in 1980. Picture: Getty

    Hank's final studio album was 1979's Instrumentally Yours.

    In 1985, he teamed up with Willie Nelson on the album Brand on My Heart. This would prove to be his final release, though he continued to perform live here and there.

    In 1996, Hank began experiencing respiratory problems, forcing him to retire from performing.

    He died three years later on December 20, 1999, at his Rainbow Ranch in Madison, Tennessee, aged 85.

  4. Was Hank Snow married and did he have children?

    On September 2, 1935, Hank Snow married Minnie Blanche Aalders, a young Halifax woman, who worked in a local chocolate factory.

    Minnie soon became pregnant, and gave birth to their only child, Jimmie Rodgers Snow. Jimmie also became a singer in his own right.

    Minnie died on May 12, 2003, in Madison, Tennessee. She was 89.