Sunday, August 29, 2010

Hank Snow's Rainbow Ranch Dressing

Hello my little buckaroos! How's tricks? I hope that you've all been whooping it up!

It's that time again - time to showcase the home of a legend. This time up, we're off to see the late, great Hank Snow's home. Here's Hank!

Undoubtedly fabulous! After finding fame, Hank joined in with some of the other great stars of the time in wearing beautiful handmade suits, most of them by the famous tailor, Nudie. I'm going to put some of those photos here because I'm bursting to show them.



Well, hello!

Okay, that's the "dressing" part of Ranch Dressing. Thanks for letting me get that out of the way. I'm pretty sure that those would be what you kids these days call "bling".

And I'd like to dedicate this post to my "son", Shane (the illegal adoption is pending) who inspired me to do Hank's home next in the series after seeing that he was spinning one of Mr. Snow's albums. That boy does me proud. You can click on the link to his website "Retrophile Diaries" over in my blog roll and follow it to not one but three of his awesome sites. Y'all visit!

Now on to this week's topic. I've had a sweet spot in my heart for Hank Snow for a long, long time and strangely enough, his grave is close to the Kitschderosa. Mister Kitsch and I were visiting the cemetery one day when all of a sudden, we came across Hank's grave. That's Nashville for you.

If you're unfamiliar with the late Mr. Snow, here's a little back story: He was born in 1914 in Brooklyn, Nova Scotia, Canada. At just eight years old, his parents divorced and Hank was sent to live with his grandparents. Even though his grandmother was abusive and forbid him from seeing his mother, Hank often sneaked out at night and walked the railroad tracks to visit her. Afraid of the beating that he would take for visiting his mother, Hank often slept in the railway station. At the age of 12, he ran away from an abusive stepfather and joined a fishing boat as a cabin boy. Wow, that part sounds like something out of a novel!

At age fourteen, he took his first earnings and bought his first guitar from the Eaton's mail order catalog for $5.95 and taught himself to play. He was a huge fan of Jimmie Rodgers and copied his style until he found his own voice. He played his first show in a church basement at the age of 16. He then sang at local bars, radio stations and picnics and in 1933, he got his own radio show and changed his name to "Hank, The Yodeling Ranger" because it sounded more Western. (I'll say!)

In 1935, he was married to his wife Minnie and soon had a son, who he named after his idol, the aforementioned Jimmie Rodgers. This Thursday would have been Hank and Minnie's 75th wedding anniversary.

A successful appearance on a local radio station led to Snow's audition with RCA Victor and in 1936, he signed with the label. A weekly CBC radio show brought him national recognition, and he began touring Canada until the late 1940s when American country music stations began playing his records. Along the way, he changed his name to "Hank, The Singing Ranger" as his voice was becoming more baritone with age.

He was included in an American tour throughout the early 1940s and then moved to Nashville, Tennessee in 1945 and was invited by Ernest Tubb to play at the Grand Ole Opry in 1950. Hot dog! What an honor! His first few appearances received lukewarm appreciation, until he wrote and recorded the song "I'm Movin' On" which became the top country song of that year and stayed at the top for 22 weeks, setting the all-time record for the most weeks at number one.

This success enabled him to buy his family's first home and property which he called "The Rainbow Ranch" in Madison, Tennessee. This was the only home that he ever owned. Reportedly, he referred to a place called "The Rainbow Ranch" for years before he ever bought the home.

Here he is with his beautiful trick horse, Shawnee at the home. At one point, Hank did shows with Shawnee where he'd showcase the horse's tricks and daredevil stunts. He also briefly tried to forge a movie career but never found success in that area. When I went out to photograph the house, I could barely see from the road that the barn is still painted just like this. I love that.

He followed that hit with "Don't Hurt Anymore" which remained at the top of the charts for almost the same period. Other number one hits included "Fool Such As I", "The Rhumba Boogie", "I've Been Everywhere" and "Hello Love."

He became a regular at the Grand Ole Opry, and in 1954 Snow persuaded the directors to allow a young Elvis Presley to appear on stage. Hank used Presley as his opening act and introduced him to Colonel Tom Parker.

Here's a shot of Hank with Elvis.

And here is a show bill showing Hank as the top act and look down there at the bottom...Elvis! You'll also notice Hank's son listed below Elvis. For a while, he launched a music career as well.

In August 1955, Snow and Parker formed the management team, Hank Snow Attractions. This partnership signed a management contract with Presley but before long, Snow was out and Parker had full control over the rock singer's career. By all reports, Hank was ousted in some pretty dirty dealings by Parker. We all know how that career worked out for Elvis!

During the late '60s, Snow's career slowed down - reportedly because he wasn't able to make the transition to the new, heavily orchestrated country-pop sounds. His singles placed in the lower edges of the charts, but his Grand Ole Opry appearances continued to be popular. In 1974 he scored another number one hit called "Hello Love" at the age of sixty-one, and holds the record for being the oldest country performer ever to have a number one hit.

Snow then had two other top 10 hits before 1981 when RCA dropped him after a 45-year relationship. Snow was very upset with the label's treatment of him, and reportedly with the direction that country music was taking. He claimed that "eighty percent of today's country music is a joke and not fit to listen to." He was also quite angry that "country's roots are being diluted by pop and rock production values." (Just when I thought that I couldn't love him more..)

He never recorded again. All in all, Snow had a career covering six decades during which he recorded over 100 LPs, sold more than 80 million albums and had 40 songs in the country music Top 10. He remained as a regular on the Grand Ole Opry for 46 years. He also operated a music school in Nashville, a publishing house in New York and owned two radio stations. Due to his sad childhood, he established the Hank Snow International Foundation For Prevention Of Child Abuse.

Now on to the "ranch" part of ranch dressing! Here is a photo of his home as it appears today. A little bit ranch and a little bit bungalow.

It's a little worse for the wear but I bet that it was pretty sweet in it's heyday. You can see the original striped, metal awnings over the windows.

The home still has the arbor intact.

From this angle, you can see the old signal light. Hank did many railroad songs and along with his other nicknames was called "The Railroad Man". You can also see the old stone walls and carriage lighting

Those window bars are pretty popular around here so I'm not certain if those are original or put on later. I do wish that I could see this house in all of it's glory and without them though!

Though the home is close to the street, you can see from the aeriel view, that the property is quite large and has a pool. I bet this place was really something back in the day!

Hank lived out his life at his Rainbow Ranch home and passed away there on December 20th, 1999 at the age of 85. His wife, Minnie lived there until her death four years later. His gravestone is engraved with a take on his famous song title which is very fitting:

And I'll leave you with Hank in 1967 wearing one of his beautiful suits, performing that song with his Rainbow Ranch Boys. Glorious.

Until next time,
x's and o's,


Charm and Poise said...

Aw, Hank!

He's so adorable ... and those suits in the clip were KILLING me. Why wear something else, boys, when suits like that are a possibility in the world? Nudies is in my old neck of the woods -- Southern California -- and there are a lot of fab photos on their website ( if anyone is interested in a fancy suit.

Anyway, I love that Hank called the place Rainbow Ranch before he even lived there -- that means he was a hopin' and wishin' about the place and that's just precious!

Tamlyn Rawls said...

Eartha, you go girl! What a wonderful story to share with us all. Thank you!
I totally agree with "Charm & Poise," ...and totally want one of my own fabu suits.

Sara In AZ said...

Let me be the first to say - Those turquoise cowboy boots - THE BOMB!!!! All of his western clothes are SOOOOO awesome.

I have to agree about the country music thing too. When I think of country I always think of the old stuff, not ever the new country songs from today. I love that old stuff!

Rainbow Ranch looks completely fantastic. I think I need a Rainbow Ranch of my own!!! :)

Great Post Eartha!

SusieQT said...

I am seriously diggin those speactator cowboy boots!

K0dama said...

those suits are amazing - more bands should dress in matching outfits, with glitter!
thanks for sharing that, Eartha!

Holly Hall said...

One of my favorite Hanks! You know how much I love the Nudie eye candy too. Your blog is just as fabulous as I knew it would be!

Shane Tenczar said...

Ugh MOM! Such a great post!!!!

miss jille said...

Love Hank Snow and his frog suit :)

Anonymous said...

Like Sara in AZ said, I don't care for modern country music. Give me Hank Snow or Patsy Cline any day. Those are some gorgeous suits. Thanks for doing all these country star posts. My mom was a big country fan and seeing where some of her favorites lives brings back a lot of happy memories.

Poodle Superstar said...

The thing that amazes me about this little photo essay you've been doing is the relative ordinary-ness of the houses. You'd think these big time country stars would all have big mansions. These are just regular houses with big yards. Not that I wouldn't kill to have any one of them,and a bucket of fix-up money to make them whole again. I love this series.

Sherrie said...

I know the Nudie suits very well...many rock stars wear them as well...I saw many of them in person on a Mr. Mike Mills of a certain REM fame.

His cemetery stone is perfect! Rest well, Mr. Snow.

Monica said...

Love his outfits and his song, I must go listen to others!

what a cute ranch! the bars on the windows you only see in Queens and as you get closer to Manhattan around here, it that a bad area or is that just the style(the bars)?

Dane said...

I love these features and the work and knowledge you put into them. And like Miss P. Superstar up there said, the everyday-ness of these houses these big stars lived in their whole lives is surprising. And, I think, shows some interesting contrasts in values to today's stars.

Also - that's my girl, out there shooting graves. :D

madouesse said...

I am thirty years old, and have to say that by the time I was introduced to Snow's music, he was already gone. However I was brought up by my late Grandfather, a huge classic country fan, as am I, and once I heard him, I recognized the depth of talent, possessed by him. All though he is gone, even my generation recognizes the large void left in the soul of country music, not having him anymore. Best John Boudreau

Edge said...

I from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia and saw Hank and Shawanee (his trick horse) perform in 1950. It was a wonderful thing.

Eldridge Currie
Burnaby, British Columbia

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, a band member of Hank's was murdered in Nashville in 1973. It really spooked Hank and he beefed up his home security afterwards.