100 Greatest Men: #83. Freddie Hart

100 Greatest Men: The Complete List

Back in country music’s golden age, an artist could maintain a solid career for two decades before suddenly reaching a massive height of popularity.

Freddie Hart was a great example of this.   As one of fifteen children born to an Alabama sharecropper, Hart’s only chance at success was striking out on his own.  Though he played guitar since the age of five, Hart’s first tour of the world was as a soldier at the age of fifteen.  He lied about his age to join the service during World War II.

He settled in California after the war, and worked at a police academy, teaching self-defense lessons.  His musical career first took off when he joined the road band of Lefty Frizzel, who was instrumental in earning Hart a recording contract with Capitol. While his song “Loose Talk” was recorded by Carl Smith, he didn’t have significant success as a recording artist beyond a handful of tracks that peaked outside the top ten.

After a stint at an independent label, Hart returned to the Capitol roster in 1970.  His first releases fared so poorly that the label dropped him, but they still sent another single to radio: “Easy Loving.”  It took off immediately, and by the time it reached #1, he was back on the Capitol roster.

“Easy Loving” is widely acknowledged as one of the most significant singles in country music history, bringing a new frankness to the genre.  A slew of hits followed, and Hart dominated in the industry awards in 1971 and 1972.  The album Easy Loving was so big that it earned gold status, a rarity for country music albums in the early seventies.

Though the hits died down toward the latter half of the seventies, he remained a popular touring act.  Even today, he still commands a fan base that stretches around the world, proving that sometimes, slow and steady really does win the race.

Essential Singles:

  • The Key’s in the Mailbox, 1960
  • Easy Loving, 1971
  • My Hang-Up is You, 1972
  • Super Kind of Woman, 1973
  • Trip to Heaven, 1973
  • The First Time, 1975

Essential Albums:

  • Easy Loving, 1971
  • My Hang-Up is You, 1972
  • Bless Your Heart, 1972
  • Super Kind of Woman, 1973

Next: #82. Fiddlin’ John Carson

Previous: #84. Uncle Dave Macon

100 Greatest Men: The Complete List

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2 Responses to 100 Greatest Men: #83. Freddie Hart

  1. Erik NorthNo Gravatar

    I’d also point out that “Easy Loving” got a substantial amount of airplay on Top 40 radio, too; it peaked inside the Top 20 on the pop charts in the fall of 1971.

  2. Paul W DennisNo Gravatar

    Not quite accurate – DJs around the country (initially,I believe, in Atlanta) started playing the album track of “Easy Loving”, creating a demand that forced Capitol to release the song as a single and re-sign Hart back to the label.

    Also after his initial run with Capitol during the 1950s Hart went to Columbia charting five songs and then to Kapp where he charted six more singles. Kapp Records might be described as an independent label (it was sold to MCA in 1967 so for Freddie’s latter Kapp singles and albums it was no longer an independent), but no one could describe Columbia as an independent label – it was THE big boy of country labels

    No Billboard top ten records but eight of the eleven charted songs reached the top thirty and some were bigger than that regionally as reflected in Cashbox chartings, Cashbox placing less emphasis on large urban areas and more on the south and southeast. “The Wall” (Columbia, 1959)reached #7 on Cashbox and “Born A Fool” (Kapp, 1968) made it to #11 on Cashbox