100 Greatest Men: #79. Hank Locklin

100 Greatest Men: The Complete List

He’s best known for his handful of big hits for RCA in the late fifties and early sixties, but Hank Locklin’s career stretched more than a decade in both directions.

A leg injury at the age of eight was the first significant event in his musical career, as he picked up the guitar during his recovery and its lingering effects later exempted him from service in World War II.  While he didn’t finish high school, he did win a talent contest at the age of eighteen, which led to a spot on local radio stations in panhandle Florida and the surrounding states.

During the war, he played in bands in Alabama, and was soon a guitarist in Jimmy Swan’s band.  He formed the Rocky Mountain Boys in 1947, and their popularity on the radio led to a series of independent and regional recording contracts.   When they didn’t find success, Locklin went solo, and spent the early fifties on the Four Star label, where he enjoyed his first #1 hit in 1953, “Let Me Be the One.”

Locklin’s career skyrocketed when he joined RCA in 1955, under the guidance of producer Chet Atkins.   Simple production was used to showcase Locklin’s distinctive tenor, and he became a mainstay on country radio for many years.  His career reached its peak with “Please Help Me, I”m Falling”, a 1960 hit that has since become a country music standard.

A series of concept albums followed, the most notable being a collection of Irish songs done in a country style.   He immortalized many of his greatest influences, including Ernest Tubb, in his 1968 hit “The Country Hall of Fame.”    When the radio hits faded, life on the road remained, and his popularity abroad led to tours of Europe.   He was a regular on the Grand Ole Opry since 1960, and on the eve of his death at age 91, he  was that venerable institution’s oldest living member.

Essential Singles:

  • The Same Sweet Girl, 1948
  • Let Me Be the One, 1953
  • Geisha Girl, 1957
  • Send Me the Pillow You Dream On, 1958
  • Please Help Me, I’m Falling, 1960
  • The Country Hall of Fame, 1968

Essential Albums:

  • Please Help Me, I’m Falling, 1960
  • Ways of Life, 1963
  • Irish Songs, Country Style, 1964
  • My Kind of Country Music, 1965
  • Nashville Women, 1967
  • Country Hall of Fame, 1968

Next: #79. Brad Paisley

Previous: #80. The Everly Brothers

100 Greatest Men: The Complete List


  1. The only Locklin song I’m familiar with is “Please Help Me I’m Falling” but I don’t recall when I first heard it. Did it ever cross over to pop radio?

  2. “Send Me The Pillow That You Dream On” was probably the biggest copyright Hank owned. As recorded by Johnny Tillotson, the song reached #17 Pop / #11 Country / #5 AC and was a hit in England as well. Hank’s own recording went #77 Pop / #5 Country. Seemingly every country artist recorded (Dolly Parton, Roy Rogers, Sammi Smith, Dwight Yoakam, The Browns, etc) the song and it appeared on some huge selling albums by the likes of Dean Martin, Corine Bailey Rae, The Everly Brothers – and it was a hit in Denmark in a translated version “Alt det med guld og grønne skove”

    Hank was very popular in the Great Britain and Ireland and made many trips there. I saw him several times in 1969 and 1970 and he never failed to sell out the venue and put on a great show.

    While he was not nearly as popular as Webb Pierce, his music faces the same obstacle – his vocal style is completely out of vogue in all forms of country music except bluegrass

    You have him placed more or less correctly – he certainly wouldn’t be in my top 50

  3. Why is this list taking soooooo long the 100 greates women ony took 5 months its been 11 months and were only at #80 come on at this rate we’ll finish in 2014-15

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