Art&Seek presents This Week in Texas Music History. Every week, we’ll spotlight a different moment and the musician who made it. This week, Texas music scholar Gary Hartman remembers a singer whose biggest hits were based on a most unlikely theme.
You can also hear This Week in Texas Music History on Friday on KXT and Saturday on KERA radio. But subscribe to the podcast so you won’t miss an episode. And our thanks to KUT public radio in Austin for helping us bring this segment to you. And if you’re a music lover, be sure to check out Track by Track, the bi-weekly podcast from Paul Slavens, host of KERA radio’s 90.1 at Night.
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Country singer Hank Thompson was born on Sept. 3, 1925, in Waco. He showed an early affinity for the music business and even had his own radio show as a teenager. Starting in the 1950s, Thompson established himself as a leader in the newly emerging genre of honky tonk. He produced several hit records, including “A Six Pack to Go” and “The Wild Side of Life,” which won him recognition as Billboard’s top-ranked country band from 1953 to 1965. It is perhaps ironic that so many of Thompson’s songs celebrated the honky tonk lifestyle of hard drinking and wild living, considering that he was born and raised in Waco, a town which, until recently, was officially dry.