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Howard Crockett

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Biography

Howard Crockett was born Howard Elton Hausey on Christmas Day of 1925 in northern Louisiana. As a child, Howard showed promise as a baseball player and was even scouted by professional teams, but an arm injury cut his career short. Following a spell in the Navy, Crockett began pursuing a musical career, writing songs. His career kicked into gear when he attended the Louisiana Hayride around 1956, where he met Johnny Horton. The singer took a liking to Howard's original "Honky Tonk Man," purchasing a third of the rights from Howard, with another third going to Horton's manager, Tillman Franks, and then Horton recorded the song, having a major hit with the tune and helping establish the tune as a country standard. (According to the liner notes by Claes Håken Olofsson, Bo Berglind, and Colin Escott for Bear Family's 2007's set Out of Bounds, Crockett also claims to have written "One Woman Man," but Franks states he wrote it with Horton.) Following the success of "Honky Tonk Man," Howard Hausey relocated to Fort Worth, TX, and he began playing on the local Dallas show The Big D Jamboree, while Horton continued to cut some of his songs. Mac Wiseman then signed Howard to Dot Records, encouraging the singer to adopt Crockett as a surname. Crockett's first single for Dot, "If You'll Let Me"/"You've Got Me Lyin'," featured pianist Floyd Cramer, guitarist Chet Atkins, and the Jordanaires as supporting vocalists, and appeared in 1957. The next year, "Branded"/"Night Rider" was released. During the late '50s, Crockett regularly played the Louisiana Hayride with his band the Night Riders, while continuing to write for Horton, giving him such tunes as "All Grown Up" and "Whispering Pines." Sometime in 1958, Dot dropped Crockett and he moved to the local Fort Worth imprint Manco, in 1959 releasing "Sleufoot the Bear," a song that Horton cut the next year as "Slew Foot." Two more singles followed for Manco in the next year, then in 1961 he signed with Smash, where he released three singles, all to no success. Crockett then moved to Motown's country subsidiary, Mel-O-Dy, where he released sides that emphasized his vocal similarities to Johnny Cash, but these too did not garner much attention. As the '60s gave way to the '70s, Crockett's career continued to stall -- partially due to his own resistance to cut deals (according to the Bear Family liner notes, he refused to deal with Hanna-Barbera in adapting his song "The Story of Bango" into a TV series), and partially due to bad breaks. He faded into the local Texas scene in the '70s, retiring from the music business. He died on December 27, 1994, from cancer. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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