DEAD: ON THIS DATE
Hank Thompson (aged 82)
Henry William Thompson (September 3, 1925 –November 6, 2007) was an American country musicentertainer whose career spanned seven decades.
Thompson’s musical style, characterized as honky tonk Western swing, was a mixture of fiddles, electric guitar and steel guitar that featured his distinctive, smooth baritone vocals.
His backing band, The Brazos Valley Boys, was voted the top Country Western Band for 14 years in a row by Billboard. The primary difference between his music and that of Bob Wills was that Thompson, who used the swing beat and instrumentation to enhance his vocals, discouraged the intense instrumental soloing from his musicians that Wills encouraged; however, the “Hank Thompson sound” exceeded Bob Wills in Top 40 country hits.
Although not as prominent on the top country charts in later decades, Thompson remained a recording artist and concert draw well into his 80s.
The 1987 novel Crazy Heart by Thomas Cobb was inspired by Thompson’s life, specifically by his practice of picking up a local band to back him when he toured. In 2009 Cobb’s novel was turned into a successful film directed by Scott Cooper and starring Academy Award winner Jeff Bridges.
DEATH: Thompson’s last public performance had been on October 8, 2007, in his birthplace of Waco, Texas. Like many men of his generation, Thompson had been a smoker for most of his adult life, and had been admitted into a Texas hospital in mid-October for shortness of breath. After having been diagnosed with a particularly aggressive form of lung cancer, Thompson canceled the rest of his 2007 “Sunset Tour” on November 1, 2007, two days after being released, and retired from singing. He then went into hospice care at his home in Keller, Texas and lost his battle with the disease five days later on November 6, 2007, aged eighty-two.