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Hank Garland tribute

Written by admin on November 11, 2010 – 6:05 am -

Hank Garland Today would have been the 80th birthday of guitar great Hank Garland, who provided expert contributions to classic tracks by artists such as Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison and Patsy Cline.

Hank was born Walter Louis Garland on November 11, 1930 in Cowpens, South Carolina. He began his career at an early age with appearances on local radio and gigs around Cowpens, before moving to Nashville in 1946. At the age of just 19, Hank had a million selling hit with the instrumental “Sugarfoot Rag.”

Hank Garland – “Sugarfoot Rag”

Garland became a member of the so-called Nashville A-Team of session musicians. Among the other key members of the Nashville A-Team were Bob Moore on bass, Floyd Cramer on piano, Buddy Harman and Jerry Carrigan on drums, Boots Randolph on sax, Charlie McCoy on harmonica and the Jordanaires on backing vocals.

The “After the Riot at Newport” album by Chet Atkins and The Nashville All-Stars featured Garland with a number of the musicians mentioned above. The group had been due to play the Newport Jazz Festival, but their appearance was cancelled due to an unruly crowd. As they were all together and RCA had rented a mansion locally for use during the festival, the group set about recording an album instead. “After the Riot at Newport” featured seven tracks, including two written for the occasion – “Nashville to Newport” and “Riot-Chorus.” After the Riot at Newport

Garland’s best known work is that which he did with Elvis Presley from 1957 to 1961. It is Garland’s lead guitar on such classics as “A Big Hunk O’ Love”, “A Fool Such As I”, “Little Sister” and “I Need Your Love Tonight.” He also appeared live with Elvis, including at the March, 1961 benefit show in Honolulu, which would be the last time Elvis sang live until his television special in 1968.

Elvis Presley – “A Big Hunk O’ Love”

As well as the brilliant contributions to Elvis’ songs, Garland also appeared on classics such as Patsy Cline’s “Crazy”, the Everly Brothers’ “Bye Bye Love” and “Wake Up Little Susie”, and Roy Orbison’s “Pretty Woman.”

Garland’s talent as a country and rock ‘n’ roll guitarist were in great demand, but he was also an accomplished jazz guitarist, as illustrated by his instrumental albums “Velvet Guitar”, “Jazz Winds from a New Direction” and “Subtle Swing.” The latter was re-released as “The Unforgettable Guitar of Hank Garland” in 1962.

Hank Garland – “Blame It On My Youth” (from “Velvet Guitar” album)

Sadly, Garland’s musical career was cut short in 1961 when a car accident near Springfield, Tennessee left him in a coma for a week and meant he had to re-learn how to walk and talk. He never again played guitar professionally.

Hank Garland died on December 27, 2004. The 2008 movie, “Crazy”, was inspired by the life of Hank Garland. It was released on DVD and Blu-ray earlier this year.

The 2-CD set “Move: The Guitar Artistry of Hank Garland” includes selections from “After the Riot in Newport”, “Jazz Winds from a New Direction”, “Velvet Guitar” and “Subtle Swing”.


Move: The Guitar Artistry of Hank Garland (CD)

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Crazy (DVD)

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Crazy (Blu-ray)

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