Esco Hankins

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b. 1 January 1924, Maynardville, Union County, Tennessee, USA, d. 18 November 1990. Hankins is generally described as a Roy Acuff soundalike. Whether it was intentional or not, the similarity is irrefutable…
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b. 1 January 1924, Maynardville, Union County, Tennessee, USA, d. 18 November 1990. Hankins is generally described as a Roy Acuff soundalike. Whether it was intentional or not, the similarity is irrefutable but may, in part, be explained by the fact that he came from the same area of Tennessee. Hankins, like Acuff, became interested in music while recovering from an illness. He learned to play guitar and had a sponsored radio show on WROL Knoxville by the time he was 14. He served in the US Army during World War II and on discharge, he returned to WROL. In 1947, at the label owner’s request, he recorded an album of songs associated with Acuff for King Records. (Acuff’s biography states ‘The best Acuff imitator is Esco Hankins. His records even fooled Roy’s mother’). Further King recordings included his own ‘Mother Left Me Her Bible’. In the early 50s, Hankins relocated to Lexington, Kentucky, where he starred on various popular shows including the Kentucky Barn Dance andHappy Valley Barn Dance. He also became noted as a disc jockey. He recorded four sides for Mercury Records in Nashville, in 1951, but suffered when the label omitted his name on one single and named him Roscoe Hankins on the other. In 1954, he married Jackie Tincher who began to sing harmony with him and together they opened a record shop in Lexington. In the early 60s, Hankins made further recordings for Columbia Records and a gospel album for Rem. In 1964, they moved to the WWVA Wheeling Jamboree, where they were featured artists until the late 60s. By this time his singing was almost completely confined to gospel music and he recorded albums of the genre for Jewel. In the 80s, he and Jackie sang at one or two special events, including a popular appearance at the 1982 World’s Fair in Knoxville. By the mid-80s, worsening health forced him to retire. He died following a stroke in 1990.