About The Artist
His parents named himn Garland Perry Cochran when he was born in 1935 in Isola, Mississippi.
Hank was interviewed by Country Song Roundup in 1968 and he spoke of his early years in the music business. He noted he had always had an interest in poetry, in spite of the comments he'd get from his fellow classmates at school. He learned to play the guitar from an uncle when he was living in Hobbs, New Mexico. When he was fourteen years old, he bought a guitar for the princely sum of twenty-five dollars and honed his skills. He started appearing on amateur shows, wring songs and before he knew it, he found he was going to make a career in the music business.
Around 1953 or 1954, Hank teamed up with a fellow named Eddie Cochran, who was not a relative. The performed as the Cochran Brothers. They tended to do music that leaned towards rock and roll. They eventually split up - Eddie going on to do more rock music while Hank went back to his country music roots.
In 1957, the central valley of California had a local hit television show airing over KOVR-TV. That show was the California Hayride. It was a ninety-minute show that aired on Wednesday nights. It originated from the KOVR studios. The show was emceed by well-known Cottonseed Clark and Bill Ring, another star who had seen success on radio and television as well. The show had a mix of young and old artists including such names as Marilyn Orlando and Mike Calkins for the younger members in the audience as well as others such as Jerri Jones, Lee Ross, Hank Cochran, the Auston Brothers, Pete Harrison, Judy Muson along with the musical efforts by Jimmy Rivers and his Cherokees band.
The California Hayride artists did personal appearances around the central valley as you might expect. They appeared regularly at the Manteca Ballroom in Manteca, California every Saturday night.
Around this time, Hank's popularity was such that he had his own fan club which was headed up by Dovie Pierce in Modesto, California.
Around 1958 or 1959, Ray Price and Claude Caviness joined forces to form the Pamper Music, Inc. publishing company. One of the early hits from Pamper was Ray's "Crazy Arms", which he recorded before his association with Pamper. In January of 1959, Hank signed on as an exclusive songwriter for Pamper, working from their West Coast office. Another fellow named Willie Nelson joined the company in November 1960. The West Coast branch was run by Claude and was located at 9652 Winchell Street in Pico Rivera, California.
An article on Pamper Music notes that Hank originally signed on as a writer in September 1959. And made his home on the west coast until January 23, 1960. On May 31, 1962, he was named Production Coordinator of Pamper and was said to be working closely with Hal Smith at the time.
In a 1967 interview by Bill Thompson of Tex Williams, Tex had brought up Hank's name. That led to Tex telling Mr. Thompson a bit of what he saw in Hank's songwriting.
It seems that Tex had recorded one of Hank's early tunes in 1963 called "Late Movie". Tex said he had heard that only once, on an album by Burl Ives. His A&R man for Liberty Records, Tommy Allsup had given him a demo tape of Hank doing the song with just his guitar. Tex noted in the interview, "...this we got to do. I mean the tune ... I think should have been on of the biggest sellers ... I think one day will be. I still feel that it should be one of the biggest tunes of all times."
Mr. Thompson told Tex that he felt Hank was an emotional songwriter. "He really feels...I've heard some of his dubs and demos where he just goes to pieces on some of his own songs in getting the feeling across." Tex noted simply, he writes from the heart. Mr. Thompson relates that Hank "...seems to hang on ballads and personal experiences."
In 1965, Norma Barthel wrote a column for Country Music Review in which she told readers that a singer in Ernest Tubb's band, the Texas Troubadours, Jack Greene had just recorded a tune by Hank called "Don't You Ever Get Tired (Of Hurting Me)". He sang it over the famed Midnight Jamboree show on March 27, 1965 and according to Norma, the audience loved it as it was a ballad style that Jack handled quite well. Jack was playing drums for Mr. Tubb back then.
In a late 1966 article featuring Jeannie Seely, we read about Hank's influence on Jeannie's early career on the west coast. Jeannie had played in many venues up and down the west coast in her early career, including radio and television shows. Around this time, she was a regular on the "Country Music Time" show that was seen over KCOP-TV. She was voted "Most Promising Female Vocalist" in southern California two years in a row. She met Hank Cochran around this time - who was working on the west coast at the time.
Hank suggested that Jeannie move to Nashville to improve her chances of success. But she wasn't ready at the time - she didn't want to move unless she knew she could find work. Hank did succeed in getting her to come to Nashville to record a demo tape to try and get her a recording contract. But this first attempt didn't work out and she went back to the west coast.
Jeannie did land a contract with Challenge Reocrds then, but nothing seemed to happen for her. She was also doing songwriting at the time for Four Star Music. Bob Jennings was running the Nashville office and also felt that Jeannie's career as a singer / songwriter would have a better chance if she moved to Nashville; he offered her a job as secretary. But that job didn't last long once word got out of this new voice and was being heard. Porter Wagoner was the first to giver her a chance since Norma Jean had announced her resignation from his show. This gave Jeannie some welcome exposure to audiences.
Hank Cochran entered her life again and took her to meet Fred Foster of Monument Records, who was one of Hank's friends in the industry. Yes, Fred was one of those who turned her down initially but evidently, they heard something different this time.
Her first records for Monument was written for Jeannie by Hank as he had promised. That first record was the classic, "Don't Touch Me". It wasn't too long before she left the Porter Wagoner show and saw her solo career take off.
In one of his regular columns in Country Song Roundup, songwriter, singer, comedian Don Bowman claimed to have heard several New Year's resolutions for 1968. He claims Hank's resolution that year was "To live one day at a time — and try to remember it." You have to wonder if hanging around with Don was a good idea with the stories he would include of the parties and good times they had in Nashville. One mention noted that Hank was always trying to get better and one way was attending Tootsie's Business COllege, wryly noting Hank hadn't missed a "class" in four years. Don perhaps tongue-in-cheek mentioned that Hank couldn't remember some of the songs he wrote until somebody showed him his name on the record.
A fellow by the name of George Lindsey, who then was cast as the character of "Goober" on the popular Andy Griffith show, came to Nashville in 1968 looking for new songs to record. One of the people he met with was Hank along with other legendary writers such as Bill Anderson, Cindy Walker and Hank Mills.
That 1968 interview we mentioned, he notes the enjoyment he found in songwriting. "...I don't get nearly that much enjoyment from anything as I do from writing songs. That's my biggest enjoyment, a bigger thrill than anything."
He was asked if he had a method or formula to the way he wrote his tunes. He told the magazine, "Well, I have a theory that someboyd besides me must write my songs because half of the time I don't have the slightest idea where they come from. I even wake up out of a dead sleep and write a song comopletely. I wrote "A Funny Way of Laughing" that way. I wrote words and everything. I ran over the melody a couple of times before I went back to sleep to make sure I wouldn't forget it. Jeannie Seely's release, "Welcome Home To Nothing" was written that way. I got up and went into the room where the tape recorder was and got my guitar. I wrote it within a matter of fifteen minutes."
Some of the songs that Hank wrote or co-wrote:
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