New book looks at Hank Snow's life and legacy

Nick Moase
Published on May 5, 2014

Local author Vernon Oickle is launching his latest book this week, a biography of Hank Snow. This weekend also marks three days of celebration around what would have been Snow's 100th birthday. 

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Plenty is planned for the upcoming weekend to mark Hank Snow's 100th birthday, including the launch of a new biography of the singer by local author Vernon Oickle. 

A biography of Hank Snow is something Oickle has been thinking about for many years, but when he realized how close of a milestone was approaching he made the pitch to Nimbus Publishing to get things going.

After three years of work, the book I'm Movin' On: The Life and Legacy of Hank Snow will be launched this Friday in Liverpool. The day also coincides with what would have been Hank Snow's birthday, May 9.

"The timing all came together very well. Another year or two, if I hadn't clued in on the date, (the book) would have missed its impact."

This is the first full length biography Oickle has written, though he has written shorter biographies to go with other books he has written.

"This was a whole new genre for me," he says, adding that made putting it together an interesting challenge.

"There is a lot of material in archives about Hank Snow, because he is a legend in country music."

The biggest challenge was figuring out what to put in and what to leave out.

However the story of Hank Snow was compelling enough to keep him going.

"I'm of the belief that even if you don't like their type of music, you can be a fan of their story," says Oickle. "And Hank Snow has a tremendous story behind him."

To put together the biography, Oickle interviewed many that knew Hank Snow both professionally and personally. One of the key people was Hank's son, Rev. Jimmie Rodgers Snow, who also wrote forward for the book.

"I had the great pleasure of talking with him and exchanging ideas many times over the process," says Oickle.

Other key people were Sheri Blackwood, Hank's personal assistant for 27 years, the last two surviving members of Rainbow Ranch Boys, Hanks band, and Carroll Baker, another Queens County resident who also made it big on the country music scene.

The book chronicles Hank Snow's life from his troubled childhood, his rise to fame in Nashville, and to his death in 1999, then finishes on his lasting legacy.

"He was going to be someone in country music and stuck with it. He made lots of sacrifices and his family made lots of sacrifices along the way."

Oickle adds this was at a time when Canada barely had an entertainment industry.

However the Snow's dedication to his music shows in the legacy he left behind, says Oickle, with the museum, the tribute, and legions of fans.

"To leave that legacy is phenomenal. "

The book includes over 70 photos of Hank Snow, gathered mainly from Jimmie Snow, Sheri Blackwood and Hank snow Country Museum, so there are likely some that have never been seen before, says Oickle.

Oickle has worked for 35 years in the newspaper industry, both at The Advance and the Progress Bulletin, and accrued many awards over those years for his work. He has also authored 20 books, including the popular series based on the poem One Crow Sorrow.

Oickle says next for him are a few other book projects in the works, including the next in the Crow series Five Crows Silver.

I'm Movin' On, The Life and Legacy of Hank Snow will be launched at the Hank Snow Home Town Museum from 1-3 p.m. Oickle will also be doing a book signing at Reynold's Pharmachoice from 2-4 p.m. on May 10.