Hank Locklin – The Red Rose

18th January 2022 · 1950s, 1953, Country, Music

Hank Locklin was a huge country star, notching numerous hits with countless smooth songs showcasing his sweet and warm tenor and romantic sentiments. This old-timey number is an exception.


With its frenzied fiddle-playing lending it an old-timey feel, this early honky-tonk number, the B-side of a 1953 tune called I Can’t Run Away, is an exception.

There’s a playful aspect to Hank’s vocal in the way he stretches out the title phrase, his voice rising and falling in an unusual style, before speeding up the next lines.

Taking inspiration from his idol, honky-tonk pioneer Ernest Tubb, it’s a song that’s made for the dance floor – albeit the spit-and-sawdust dancefloor of a honkytonk rather than the bright lights of a disco.

Locklin grew up in the Florida panhandle and only took up music after he was run down by a school bus when he was eight years old – “It almost mashed me flatter than a fritter,” he said later – and took up the guitar during his recovery.

That leg injury was enough to spare him military service in the war and, after a series of odd jobs, he formed a band called The Rocky Mountain Playboys, and it was this period that produced The Red Rose, released in 1953.

His career took off in earnest in the mid-Fifties, recording for RCA with a dream team of Floyd Cramer on piano and Chet Atkins on guitar, producing romantic hits like Send Me The Pillow That You Dream On, It’s A Little More Like Heaven and Please Help Me, I’m Falling – a song intially turned down by Jim Reeves and later covered by Kirsty McColl.

As his music became more middle-of-the-road his popularity only grew and he indulged in crossover experiments like the album Irish Songs, Country Style, the global song collection of Foreign Love (inspired by his hits Fraulein and Geisha Girl, later covered by Nick Lowe), and a gospel album (his 65th and last) called Grace Of God.