Tom T. Hall
Tom T. Hall in 1967
|Birth name||Thomas Hall|
|Born||May 25, 1936|
|Origin||Olive Hill, Kentucky, U.S.|
|Genres||Bluegrass, country, Outlaw Country, Folk|
|Instruments||Vocals, guitar, banjo, mandolin, piano, saxophone|
|Labels||Mercury, RCA, Columbia|
|Associated acts||Dave Dudley, Patti Page, Johnnie Wright, Roger Miller, Johnny Cash|
Thomas T. Hall (born May 25, 1936) is an American country music songwriter, singer, instrumentalist, novelist, and short-story writer. He has written 12 No. 1 hit songs, with 26 more that reached the Top 10, including the No. 1 international pop crossover smash "Harper Valley PTA" and the hit "I Love", which reached No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100. He became known to fans as "The Storyteller," thanks to his storytelling skills in his songwriting.
Hall was born in Olive Hill, Kentucky, United States. As a teenager, he organized a band called the Kentucky Travelers that performed before movies for a traveling theater. During a stint in the Army, Hall performed over the Armed Forces Radio Network and wrote comic songs about Army experiences. His early career included being a radio announcer at WRON, a local radio station in Ronceverte, West Virginia. Hall was also an announcer at WMOR 1330AM in Morehead, Kentucky. Hall was also an announcer at WSPZ, which later became WVRC Radio in Spencer, West Virginia, in the 1960s.
Hall's big songwriting break came in 1963, when country singer Jimmy C. Newman recorded his song, "DJ For a Day." In 1964, Hall moved to Nashville and started to work as a $50-a-week songwriter for Newkeys Music, the publishing company belonging to Newman and his business partner Jimmy Key, writing up to half a dozen country songs per day. Key suggested that he add the middle initial "T" to his name. Hall has been nicknamed "The Storyteller," and he has written songs for dozens of country stars, including Johnny Cash, George Jones, Loretta Lynn, Waylon Jennings, Alan Jackson, and Bobby Bare.
One of his earliest successful songwriting ventures, "Harper Valley PTA," recorded in 1968 by Jeannie C. Riley, hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and Hot Country Singles charts a week apart, sold over six million copies, and won both a Grammy Award and CMA Award. The song would go on to inspire a motion picture and television program of the same name. Hall himself has recorded this song, on his album The Definitive Collection (as track No. 23). Hall's recording career took off after Riley's rendition of the song, releasing a number of hits from the late 1960s through the early 1980s. Some of Hall's biggest hits include "A Week in a Country Jail", "(Old Dogs, Children and) Watermelon Wine", "I Love", "Country Is", "The Year Clayton Delaney Died", "I Like Beer", "Faster Horses (the Cowboy and the Poet)", "That Song Is Driving Me Crazy" and many others. He is also noted for his children-oriented songs, including "Sneaky Snake" and "I Care", the latter of which hit No. 1 on the country charts in 1975. In 1979, Hall appeared on the PBS music program Austin City Limits during Season 4.
Hall won the Grammy Award for Best Album Notes in 1973 for the notes he wrote for his album Tom T. Hall's Greatest Hits. He was nominated for, but did not win, the same award in 1976 for his album Greatest Hits Volume 2. He has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry since 1971.
Together with his wife Dixie Hall he won the Bluegrass Song Writer of the Year award in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, and 2015, awarded annually by the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America (SPBGMA).
Hall succeeded Ralph Emery as host of the syndicated country music TV show Pop! Goes the Country in 1980 and continued until the series ended in 1982. He also composed the theme song for Fishin' with Orlando Wilson.
In 1998 his 1972 song "Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine" came in second in a BBC Radio 2 poll to find the UK's favorite easy listening record, despite never having been a hit in the UK and being familiar to Radio 2 listeners mostly through occasional plays by DJ Terry Wogan.
His song "I Love", in which the narrator lists the things in life that he loves, was used, with altered lyrics and a hard rock arrangement, in a popular 2003 TV commercial for Coors Light, and also used in 2014 in a TV advertisement for Clipper Teas.
On July 3, 2007, he released the CD Tom T. Hall Sings Miss Dixie & Tom T. on his independent bluegrass label Blue Circle Records.
Hall was inducted into the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame in 2002.
On February 12, 2008, Hall was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.> In regard to Hall's longer-than-anticipated wait to be inducted, he attributed it to being somewhat reclusive and "not well liked" among the Nashville music industry, noting that he almost never collaborated with other songwriters and by the 1990s was largely out of step with the corporate style of country music.
In November 2018 Hall and his wife Dixie Hall were inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame.
On June 13, 2019, Hall was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Tom Hall was married to bluegrass songwriter and producer Dixie Hall from 1969 until her death on January 16, 2015. Dixie Hall was born Iris Lawrence in the West Midlands, England, in 1934 and emigrated to the U.S. in 1961. They lived in Franklin, Tennessee. Tom and Dixie met at a 1965 music industry award dinner she was invited to for having written (as Dixie Deen) the song "Truck Drivin’ Son-of-a-Gun" which became a hit for Dave Dudley.
Hall has a son, Dean Hall, from his 1961 marriage to Opal "Hootie" McKinney from Grayson, Kentucky. In the early eighties, Dean Hall, who is a singer, musician, and songwriter, worked for his father, first as a roadie, then as a guitar player, before joining Bobby Bare’s band.