b. William Ralph Walters, 2 August 1933, Liverpool, England. Walters acquired the name ‘Hank’ while working on the Liverpool docks, in reference to his love of country music. As a schoolboy, Walters learned accordion and acquired a passion for Jimmie Rodgers’ and Hank Williams’ music. In 1946 he formed Spike Walters And His Hillbillies, one of the UK’s first country groups. Conscripted in 1951, he and some other soldiers were billed as the Dusty Road Ramblers for a show in Khartoum, Sudan. Back home, Walters used the name for his own country group and they appeared regularly at The Cavern club as well as having a residency at the Black Cat Club. Most of the early Merseybeat groups saw him perform and Walters recalls, ‘John Lennon said to me, “I don’t go much on your music, but give us your hat.” I told him that I didn’t think his group would get anywhere unless they got with it and played country.’ By 1962 the Cavern favoured beat groups, but Walters was still able to secure bookings with his country music and Scouse humour. He turned down an offer from Polydor to record a cover version of ‘Twenty Four Hours From Tulsa’, but he was featured on the Decca Records album Liverpool Goes Country. Hank Walters and the Dusty Road Ramblers continue as one of the most popular acts on Merseyside and he also fronts the Hank Walters Family. The hillbilly docker has performed at national country music festivals, but the group has been reluctant to travel because of day jobs, although Walters has now retired from the docks. Walters’ ‘Progress’, ‘Sweet Liverpool’, ‘Rollin’ Home’ and ‘The Dosser’ are well-known songs in Liverpool. The mainstays of his repertoire are ‘I Could Never Be Ashamed Of You’, ‘Are You Teasing Me?’, ‘Close To The Edge’, ‘I Saw The Light’ and, surprisingly, ‘The Ugly Bug Ball’. He says, ‘New country is just young voices singing old songs. I’ve been doing them for years.’ In 1991, Walters formed a band with his daughters, Pauline (b. 12 February 1957; vocals/guitar/mandolin), Claire (b. 29 March 1959; vocals/bass), and Lorna-Gail (b. 23 November 1964; vocals/guitar), called Hank Walters And The Arcadian Ladies.
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