Lawrence Hankins Locklin, 15 February 1918, McLellan, Florida. d. 9 March 2009, Brewton, Alabama. A farm boy, Locklin worked in the cotton fields as a child and on the roads during the Depression of the 30s. He learned to play the guitar at the age of 10 and was soon performing on local radio and at dances. His professional career started in 1938 and after an interruption for military service, he worked various local radio stations, including WALA Mobile and KLEE Houston. In 1949, he joined the The Louisiana Hayride on KWKH Shreveport and achieved his first country chart entry with his Four Star recording of his self-penned The Same Sweet One. In 1953, Let Me Be The One became his first country number 1. After moving to RCA Records in the mid-50s, he had Top 10 US country hits with Geisha Girl, his own Send Me The Pillow You Dream On, both also making the US pop charts, and Its A Little More Like Heaven. His biggest chart success came in 1960, when his million-selling recording of Please Help Me, Im Falling topped the US country charts for 14 successive weeks and also reached number 8 in the pop charts. It also became one of the first modern country songs to make the British pop charts, peaking at number 9 in a 19-week chart stay. (An answer version by Skeeter Davis called (I Cant Help You) Im Falling Too also became a US country and pop hit the same year.) Locklin became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1960 and during the next decade, his fine tenor voice and ability to handle country material saw him become one of the most popular country artists.
He registered over 20 US chart entries including Were Gonna Go Fishing and a number 8 hit with what is now a country standard, The Country Hall Of Fame, in 1967. He hosted his own television series in Houston and Dallas in the 1970s and during his career has toured extensively in the USA, Canada and in Europe. He is particularly popular in Ireland, where he has toured many times, and in 1964, he recorded an album of Irish songs. Although a popular artist in Nashville, he always resisted settling there. In the early 60s, he returned to his native Florida and built his home, the Singing L, on the same cotton field where he had once worked as a boy. After becoming interested in local affairs, his popularity saw him elected mayor of his home town of McLellan. Although Locklins last chart success was a minor hit in 1971, he remained a firm favourite with the fans and regularly appeared on the Grand Ole Opry. He continued to record into his late 80s, releasing a well-received record in 2001. Locklin died in his Alabama home in 2009 at age 91.
Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.