Hank Ballard (born John Henry Kendricks) (November 18, 1927 - March 2, 2003) was a rhythm and blues singer and songwriter, the lead vocalist of Hank Ballard and The Midnighters and one of the first rock 'n' roll artists to emerge in the early 1950s. He played an integral part in the development of the genre, releasing the hit singles "Work With Me, Annie" and answer songs "Annie Had a Baby" and "Annie's Aunt Fannie" with his Midnighters.
This is a rare first photo of The Royals as they appeared in 1953 (from left) guitarist Alonzo Tucker, Charles Sutton, Hank Ballard, Henry Booth and Sonny Woods.
The group then changed its name to The Midnighters to avoid confusion with The "5" Royales. Sutton was replaced by Lawson Smith, while Thrasher was replaced by Sonny Woods. Tucker was replaced first by Arthur Porter and then by Cal Green. The group soon released ""Get It" (1953), an R&B song with sexually oriented lyrics, which many radio stations refused to play.
In 1954, Ballard wrote a song called "Work With Me Annie" that was drawn from "Get It". It became The Midnighters' first major R&B hit and also sold well in mainstream markets, along with the answer song "Annie Had a Baby".
Their third major hit was "Sexy Ways," a song that cemented the band's reputation as one of the most risqué groups of the time. They had four more R&B chart hits in 1954-55. The Midnighters continued releasing singles and albums, and also changed their name to "Hank Ballard and The Midnighters". Their label also changed to King. They had no hits in 1956-58. Then between 1959 and 1961 they had several more both on the R&B and Pop charts, including "Let's Go, Let's Go, Let's Go" and the Grammy-nominated "Finger Popping Time, which hit #6 and #7, respectively, on the Billboard Pop Top 10 .
In 1959 Ballard's song "The Twist" was released as the B-side of "Teardrops on Your Letter". A year later Chubby Checker's cover version of the song went to #1 on the pop charts. (It would return to the top of the charts in 1962.) Though this brought about renewed interest in Ballard and The Midnighters for a time, this lasted for only a few years, and the group dissolved in 1965. Ballard tried to launch a solo career, working with James Brown..
After a lengthy absence from music, Ballard re-formed the Midnighters during the mid-'80s, first as a female group, then male, and began touring once again. In 1990, Ballard received his due as an R&B innovator with his election into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. After suffering for several years with throat cancer, Ballard died quietly at his Los Angeles home in March of 2003.
“ If you're looking for youth, you're looking for longevity, just take a dose of rock 'n' roll—it keeps you going. Just like the caffeine in your coffee, rock 'n' roll is good for the soul, for the well being, for the psyche, for your everything. I love it. I can't even picture being without rock 'n'roll. — Hank Ballard ” (info edited mainly from Wikipedia)