Clarence Eugene “Hank” Snow was born on May 9, 1914, in the sleepy fishing village of Brooklyn, Queens County, on Nova Scotia’s beautiful South Shore just down the tracks from Liverpool.
His professional career started in 1933 with his own show on Halifax’s CHNS Radio. He changed his name to “Hank, The Yodeling Ranger” because it sounded more Western. Throughout the 1930s and ’40s, he toured the Maritimes and Western Canada, playing at county fairs and local radio stations.
In 1936, he made his first recording in Montreal with RCA Victor’s Bluebird label and signed a contract that would last 47 years, the longest continuous contract in the history of the recording industry.
Later changing his moniker to “Hank, The Singing Ranger,” he made his way down south and had his first appearance at WWVA Jamboree in 1945. Here, he acquired his trained horse, Shawnee, whose tricks and daredevil stunts with Hank were endearing to audiences.
Ernest Tubb invited Snow to the Grand Ole Opry on January 7, 1950. He continued to perform there for 46 years. Though his first few appearances received only lukewarm appreciation, things changed when he wrote and recorded the song “I’m Movin’ On” — it became the top country song of 1950 and held the country music record for consecutive weeks at No. 1 (21 weeks) until 2013.
In 1954, another top country song of the year followed, Snow’s “I Don’t Hurt Anymore.”
In the early ’50s, Snow discovered a young singer who, in his mind, sang country with a little more emphasis on the beat. The young talent’s name was Elvis Presley, and Snow took him on as an opening act, later inviting him to the Grand Ole Opry and introducing him to Colonel Parker, who eventually became Elvis’s manager.
Throughout his life, Snow recorded more than 100 LPs, including everything from hit parade material to gospel, train songs, instrumentals (alone and with Chet Atkins), tributes to Jimmie Rodgers and the Sons of the Pioneers, and recitations of Robert Service poems. He paid homage to his home province with the album My Nova Scotia Home. He also recorded “Squid Jiggin’ Ground” in honour of the fishermen he sailed with out of Lunenburg in his early youth.
Snow has been elected to eight different Halls of Fame, including the Country Music Hall of Fame of the United States of America (1979), The Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame and the Nova Scotia Music Hall of Fame. He has also been voted Canada’s top country performer 10 times.
He had a hit song with “Hello Love” at the age of 61, and subsequently held the record of being the oldest country performer ever to have a number one hit for more than 26 years.
Hank Snow passed away on December 20, 1999, at his Madison, TN, home at the age of 85.
Begins first radio show, Clarence Snow and his Guitar, on Halifax’s CHNS-FM.
Signs recording contract with RCA Victor.
Achieves first number one single with “I’m Movin’ On”.
Releases Reminiscing with Chet Atkins.
Creates the Hank Snow Foundation for Child Abuse.
Inducted into Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame.
Publishes autobiography, The Hank Snow Story.