Lawrence Hankins 'Hank' Locklin (February 15, 1918 – March 8, 2009) was an American country music singer-songwriter. A member of the Grand Ole Opry for nearly 50 years, Locklin had a long recording career with RCA Victor, and scored big hits with "Please Help Me, I'm Falling", "Send Me the Pillow You Dream On" and "Geisha Girl" from 1957-1960. His singles charted from 1949-1971.
Born in McLellan in the Florida Panhandle, Locklin grew up working in the cotton fields to supplement his family’s low income. He began playing the guitar at the age of nine after being seriously injured by a school bus. He was picking guitar for amateur contests in Milton, Florida, by age 10. In his teens he was a featured performer on Pensacola radio station WCOA. For the next several years, he played with a variety of groups through the South and worked at various jobs in Florida, including farmer, ribbon mill hanker, and shipyard worker.
After World War II ended, his career started taking off. He was one of country music's early honky tonk singers and appeared on Shreveport’s Louisiana Hayride and the Big D Jamboree in Dallas, Texas. He recorded briefly for Decca, and after meeting producer Bill McCall, Hank recorded for McCall’s Four Star Records for five years. Hank scored his first Top 10 song in 1949 with “The Same Sweet Girls.” Four years later, he had a No. 1 with “Let Me Be the One,” and a recording contract with RCA Victor followed.
The next year started a string of hit singles, with “Send Me the Pillow You Dream On,” which he wrote, “It’s a Little More Like Heaven," "Geisha Girl," "Fraulein," "Why, Baby Why," and “Blue Grass Skirt.”
In 1960, the remarkable success of “Please Help Me, I’m Falling”—the song not only dominated the country chart that year, but crossed over into the Top 10 pop charts in both the United States and the United Kingdom—earned him membership in the Grand Ole Opry. It also introduced the slip-note piano style to country music through legendary pianist Floyd Cramer and was a major factor in creating the “Nashville Sound.” The slip-note piano style was synonymous with Hank's recordings from that point forward and considered his signature sound.
In the 1960s, Locklin built a ranch house called The Singing L in the field in McClellan where he had picked cotton as a boy. He was later made the honorary mayor of the town.
Many hits followed throughout the ’60s, including “We're Gonna Go Fishin'," "Happy Birthday To Me," "Happy Journey," "Followed Closely by My Teardrops,” “The Country Hall of Fame,” and "Where The Blue Of The Night, Meets The Gold Of The Day." During this time, Hank pioneered the creation of concept albums in country music with releases such as Foreign Love and Irish Songs, Country Style. Hank is also credited with taking country music to unprecedented heights of popularity with International audiences throughout the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. In all, Hank has sold more than 15 million albums and received numerous industry awards from The Grand Ole Opry, BMI, ASCAP, Cashbox, Billboard and NARAS.
His first marriage to Willa Jean Murphy ended in divorce. In 1970 he married Anita Crooks of Brewton, Alabama. He had a son and four daughters, 12 grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren and a few close great nieces and nephews.
Long a favorite with Opry audiences, Hank returned to the studio in 2001 to record Generations in Song. Featuring long-time colleagues such as Dolly Parton and Jeannie Seely, newer friends and admirers like Vince Gill (who cites Hank as an influence) and Jett Williams.In 2006, Locklin appeared on the PBS special, Country Pop Legends in which he performed "Send Me the Pillow That You Dream On," and "Please Help Me I'm Falling". Until his death at the age of 91 in 2009, he was the oldest living member of the Grand Ole Opry. Hank had recently released his 65th album, By the Grace of God, a collection of gospel songs.
He moved to Brewton, where he remained throughout his later years, and died there at home in the early morning on March 8, 2009.
(Info edited from hanklocklin.com & Wikipedia)