100 Greatest Men: The Complete List
Long before Anne Murray and Shania Twain achieved worldwide fame, Hank Snow crossed over the Canadian border and became a country music superstar.
Snow was a child runaway, escaping home at age twelve and finding solace in the music of Jimmie Rodgers. The four years he spent traveling before returning home laid the foundation for the realism that would bleed into the traveling songs he became famous for. Snow built up a following in Nova Scotia, and then made the move to Halifax. Living in the city caused great financial hardship for Snow and his young wife, but his unpaid appearances gave him enough notoriety to finally earn some paying gigs.
Throughout the forties, his success grew in Canada. He had several local country hits and became a popular radio performer throughout his native country. But it took him much longer to get a shot in America, where his RCA label refused to release his work until he became better known in the states. He got his stateside break when Ernest Tubb invited him to the Opry stage, and that was enough to convince RCA to release his music in America.
After many years of toiling in obscurity, he was a huge success out of the gate. Snow’s honky-tonk sound and worldly lyrics dominated the charts throughout the fifties, with many of his singles topping the charts for weeks on end. “I’m Moving On” is tied with two other hits as the longest-running #1 single in Billboard history, spending 21 weeks at the top, and “I Don’t Hurt Anymore” is close behind, spending twenty weeks in the penthouse.
He had many other classic hits in this decade, most notably “Yellow Roses” and “Let Me, Go Lover!” After forming a management company with Colonel Tom Parker, Snow was influential in encouraging Elvis Presley to record country music, and dabbled in some rockabilly himself, though he rarely strayed too far from his country roots.
Even as the Nashville Sound began to dominate, Snow remained relevant, scoring big hits throughout the sixties and early seventies, most notably the #1 hits “I’ve Been Everywhere” in 1962 and “Hello Love” in 1974. Snow released many LPs that were united in themes like traveling and tragedy, and also many that paid tribute to his musical influences like Rodgers and the Sons of the Pioneers.
As his career winded down through the latter half of the seventies, Snow was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1978 and the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1979. In 1981, he parted ways with RCA after forty-five years, but he remained an active performer on the Opry stage well into the nineties, before his death in 1999 at age 85.
- I’m Moving On, 1950
- The Golden Rocket, 1950
- The Rhumba Boogie, 1951
- I Don’t Hurt Anymore, 1954
- Let Me Go, Lover!, 1954
- Yellow Roses, 1955
- I’ve Been Everywhere, 1962
- Hello Love, 1974
- Country Classics, 1956
- When Tragedy Struck, 1958
- Souvenirs, 1961
- More Hank Snow Souvenirs, 1964
- Travelin’ Blues, 1966
- Tracks & Trains, 1971
- Hello Love, 1974
Next: #39. Faron Young
Previous: #41. Ronnie Milsap
Hank Snow was my Dad’s all-time favorite artist and I can still hear him pulling out his Hank Snow songbooks and singing Hank’s songs.
Needless to sy I am a big Hank Snow fan. Hank had perfect diction and nearly perfect pitch – autotune would have been a complete waste of time with Hank Snow.
He was also a terrific guitar player who played his own lead guitar for most of his career. Hank recorded five instrumental albums, two of them with Chet Atkins. If you look at the names Chet recorded instrumental duet albums with – Les Paul, Merle Travis, Jerry Reed, Lenny Breau, Mark Knoffler, Tommy Emmanuel – they were all great musicians. Hank Snow fits comfortably within the group.
I would have Hank a bit higher but I glad you actually remembered him at all. Apart from his music, Hank did much on behalf of abused children establishing the Hank Snow International Foundation For Prevention Of Child Abuse in 1976, long before it was a fashionable cause.
He was one heck of a fine entertainer. I was fortunate to see him at the Opry on two occasions during the 1980s
I have to say that “I’m Moving On” has a fair claim to being right up there in the pantheon of the all-time great country songs, and certainly Hank Snow himself belongs very high on this list.