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Hank Penny
Hank Penny
While he never achieved the kind of success enjoyed by fellow bandleaders like Bob Wills or Spade Cooley, during the late '40s and early '50s Hank Penny ranked as one of the foremost practitioners of the Western swing sound. Born Herbert Clayton Penny on September 18, 1918, in Birmingham, AL, his father was a disabled coal miner who inspired young Hank with his skills as a guitarist, poet, and magician before his death in 1928. By the age of 15, Penny was performing professionally on local radio; in 1936, he moved to New Orleans, where he first fell under the sway of Western swing pioneers like Wills and Milton Brown. A friendship with steel virtuoso Noel Boggs only served to further his enthusiasm for the swing form.
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