A space to display my autographed LPs and share anecdotes related to them. Comments are always welcome.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
In May of 1994, some friends and I took a road-trip from Atlanta to Nashville, with the express purpose of meeting the venerable and relatively inaccessible country music legend, Hank Snow. Though Hank was still performing weekly on the Grand Ole Opry, he was not known for welcoming visitors. When we arrived in Nashville, we checked into a fleabag motel, hit a few used record stores, and then caught a Friday evening performance of the Grand Ole Opry, which was still regularly featuring Hank Snow in the final time-slot. Looking over the Opry program now, I see that Hank Snow, Porter Wagoner, Grandpa Jones, Skeeter Davis, Jean Shepard, Charlie Walker, Jimmy Dickens, and Connie Smith were all part of the same show. Not bad for an evening's entertainment, even if the Opry hasn't really been the Opry since it moved from the Ryman Auditorium in downtown Nashville to the suburbs of Opryland in 1974.
Hank's performance that night was rather unmemorable, as age had considerably slowed him down. I remember him playing a slow Hawaiian song and having some difficulty reading the cue cards for whatever announcements he was supposed to make. He was dressed impeccably in one of his trademark Nudie Suits and just seeing him on stage was enough to make the trip to Nashville worthwhile for me. The following day, my friends and I drove out to Hank's modest but well-guarded estate in Madison, and rang the buzzer at the foot of the gated driveway. A woman answered through the speaker and courteously but firmly told us that Hank was not (and would not be) available to meet us and sign our records. This unceremoniously ended our attempt to meet Mr. Snow, so I had to resort to eBay to acquire the signed Hank Snow record pictured above.
This Award Winners LP popped up on eBay earlier this year with a "Buy it Now" price of $6.00 and it is one of the few prominently signed Hank Snow albums I have seen on eBay -- most are signed on the back cover with a faded ballpoint pen. Interestingly, this record once belonged to United Shows of America carnival operator Ed Gregory, who owned the rights to Jim Reeves and Faron Young before he filed for bankruptcy in 2002. I can only guess that Hank signed it for Gregory while he was performing at a United Shows of America carnival. A decade or two later, Gregory and his wife were convicted of bank fraud in Alabama and soon to be (controversially) pardoned by President Clinton in 2000. A report by the U.S. House Committee on Government Reform concluded that United Shows paid Clinton's brother-in-law Rodham $240,000 for undocumented consulting services before Gregory received the pardon.
It seems very fitting that, out of all of Hank Snow's LPs, and he has over 100 of them, I would end up with a signed copy of this relatively obscure 1971 LP called Award Winners. Believe it or not, Award Winners was the only LP I was carrying under my arm that day in 1994 when I showed up at the Rainbow Ranch and tried to meet Hank Snow.