Tuesday, March 10, 2009

R.I.P. Jimmy Boyd, Hank Locklin

I’ve just learned of the passing of two individuals who certainly were no slouches when it came to making a name for themselves in the music biz. It was Boyd’s death I learned of first (courtesy of Bill Crider), a youngster who might have been considered a “one-hit wonder” (I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus) had it not been for his talent and ability to move beyond that monster hit. Boyd parlayed the million-seller into an acting career, appearing in films like Platinum High School (1960), Inherit the Wind (1960) and Norwood (1970). His television appearances include Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre, Shirley Temple’s Storybook, My Three Sons, Broadside and The Bing Crosby Show.

But Boyd had television immortality bestowed upon him when he essayed the role of Howard Meechim, the gawky, buck-toothed boyfriend of Kelly Gregg (Noreen Corcoran) on the John Forsythe sitcom Bachelor Father (1957-62). Forget Arnold Horshack, forget Steve Urkel—forget all those gangly teen geeks that have nasally announced their presence in every classic television show past; Howard was the epitome of them all. He transcended geek. He was an über geek. Check him out one morning on RTN (if your affiliate carries the program) and see if I’m not telling you the truth.

So I finish reading the obit at Bill’s, and then I scroll down to find out Hank Locklin is no longer with us, dead at 91. It was like I swallowed a Popsicle whole; the country singer had quite an impact on my life with monster hits like Send Me the Pillow That You Dream On and his all-time No. 1 biggie, Please Help Me, I’m Falling—a song so popular (it even hit #8 on the pop charts) that it inspired an “answer” hit in Skeeter Davis’s I Can’t Help You (I’m Falling, Too), which peaked the same year at #2.

Locklin’s first record to hit the Top Ten of Billboard’s country music charts was The Same Sweet Girl in 1949, followed by other memorable hits in Geisha Girl, Let Me Be the One, It’s a Little More Like Heaven, Happy Birthday to Me and Happy Journey. His last Top Ten hit was The Country Hall of Fame in 1968, but he continued to chart records until 1971, and continued performing for countless years afterward.

The New York Times obit mentioned that Locklin’s passing was the loss of the “fourth Hank”—the other three being Hank Williams, Hank Snow and Hank Thompson. An interesting observation to be sure…but all I know is that I’m mourning the loss of one of the finest singers in country music.

R.I.P. Jimmy and Hank. You’ll never know how much you’ll be missed.


Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about Jimmy Boyd, singer, passing away of cancer. Another country western singer die of cancer. Remember Molly Bee. Both of them went to my private school called Hollywood Professional School. Both Molly and Jimmy sang together. The school folded in 1985.

Doug said...

I first saw Jimmy Boyd back in the 1950's when he sang his hit song, " I saw Mommy kissin' Santa Claus" on the Ed Sullivan Show. Thw whole family, Mom, Pop, my two siblings and I were watching. He was such a genuine looking performer and his voice so sincere we all had tears in our eyes when he finished, although the song was supposed to make you smile. My sister turned to me and said, " Why couldn't you be like that little boy?"
Jimmy also was on several episodes of the "Date With The Angels," Betty White show in the 1950's.
His character, Howard, on "Batchelor Father" was a classic. I also believe he was married to Evonne Craig at one time. What more could you ask for from life?