Hank Caldwell was a native of Vernal, Utah, standing six feet tall
and about 185 pounds with chestnut brown hair and blue eyes they say.
Hank and his band were seen on radio and televsioin throughout
California in 1953 and were on U.S. Armed Forces overseas broadcasts,
on the "Carolina Cotton Calls" show.
In the fall of 1953, they were said to be working on a program called
"Rodeo Review" that was supposed to be the 'second most expensive show
to be auditioned out of Hollywood.' They also did four trio numbers
in the movie "Outlaw Marshall" that was to be released in the future.
Hank's ride to fame has an interesting tale as he started out. It seems
that he and his partner, Speed Bastian, decided that they wanted to try
their luck in the big city of Los Angeles and started off with only $100
in their pockets. Just as the money was running out, they got a job
at a local Pico Street honky tonk, working from 6pm to 8am for "tips".
Just as they were beginning to get their heads above the water, they lost
their job when the boss found them taking request money from one of his
girl friends who was enjoying their music.
Hank worked with a variety of acts before forming the Saddle Kings.
He sang and played the bass fiddle with Harry Fletcher and "Pop"
Hemingway's Purple Sage Riders. He also worked with folks such as
Curt Massey, Roy Rogers, Hank Penney, Jimmy Wakely, Dude Martin's band,
Forman Phillips, Doye O'Dell and Foy Willing's Riders of the Purple Sage.
Hank was also the originator of "The Plainsmen" that was later headed
up by Andy Parker.
Hank was also a songwriter, one, "Throw a Saddle on A Star" was the name
of a movie also. Other tunes of his included "What Might Have Been" and "In the Arms
of Your Old Rocking Chair".
In the fall of 1952, the band appeared at the Hollywood Palladium Ballroom
with none other than Woody Herman's band and enjoyed a rousing successful
In a Cowboy Songs article, they quoted a bit of Hank's philosophy toward
his hard work ethic and life:
"To be successful in anything, a person should never know the meaning
of failure. He should keep trying in spite of any odds. You get out
of life just about what you put into it. ... I don't want to be rich;
I want to be happy and have health. If I could live so everyone would have
something good to say about me, and I could bring cheer into the lives
of others, my happiness would be complete."
Timeline and Trivia Notes
Group members included:
- Hank Caldwell, leader, vocalist, bass fiddle
- Bud Smith, accordion (from Utah)
- Jimmy Widner, guitar (from Alabama)
- Hal Metzger, fiddle (from Kansas)
Credits & Sources
- Cowboy Songs No.28; September 1953, American Folk Publications, Inc.;