• Country Music Sale auction at Christies

    Sale 2276

    Country Music Sale

    3 December 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 53

    Hank Thompson

    Price Realised  


    This lot is offered without a reserve

    Hank Thompson
    Thompson's personal copy of the 1943 edition of The Daisy Chain, the senior yearbook of Waco High School. Inscribed on the inside front cover in black ink, Henry Thompson and signed by Thompson's school mates and teachers throughout.

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    Special Notice

    This lot is offered without reserve.

    Pre-Lot Text

    Among country music artists few can rival the accomplishments or longevity of Hank Thompson's career. Between the years 1948 and 1974 he recorded twenty-eight Top Ten Hits with an additional nineteen in the Top Twenty and his Brazos Valley Boys were Billboard's top-ranked band from 1953 to 1965. Much of his body of work were his own compositions and he cut a wide swath through almost four decades of country music with his unique blend of honky-tonk and western swing.
    Born in Waco, Texas in 1925, he had an early passion for music and became enamored with the guitar after seeing Gene Autry. Before he had finished high school he was working a three show a week schedule as Hank the Hired Hand on Texas radio WACO. Following service in the U.S. Navy, during World War II, Thompson's career path was solidified in 1946 with his hit recording Whoa Sailor on the regional Blue Bonnet label. Moving to Capital Records in 1948 he obtained his first #1 single with The Wild Side of Life. His line "I didn't know God made honky-tonk angels." inspired songwriter J.D. Miller to pen the answer song It Wasn't God Who Made Honky-Tonk Angels. Recorded by Kitty Wells it would go to #1 and make Wells the first female vocalist to top the U.S. country charts.
    Thompson's live shows are remembered for their excellent sound quality and showmanship with his band smartly turned out in matching custom stage wear by Hollywood's Nudie Cohen. His Brazos Valley Boys were built upon a strong rhythm section of guitar, bass and drums that laid a foundation for the leads supplied by electric guitar, twin fiddles and at times two steel guitars and trumpet. With Thompson's strong vocal style, boyishly good looks and easy manner he became popular with network variety shows as well as sustaining a touring schedule of 250 show dates a year. But when country music headed in the genre of soft pop, popular in the 1970's, Thompson saw his chart success and touring schedule fade. Within ten years the traditional sounds of country music saw a revival and Thompson was quick to hit the road again expanding his audience to Europe, Asia and South America. In 1989 he was inducted into The Country Music Hall of Fame, and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1997. The last ten years of his life saw him doing limited engagements most of which where close to his Keller, Texas home. Always the consummate musician Thompson played his last date on October 8, 2007 before his passing six weeks later.