HANK WALTERS is recognised as the father of country music in Liverpool with his group the Dusty Road Ramblers. Other early groups were The Drifting Cowboys (featuring Bernie Green) and Cyl Con and the Westernaires.
Hank Walters, whose real name is William Ralph Walters (known as Ralph), is adamant that he was the first, though this is contested by Bernie Green. “Before my band in Liverpool I don’t know of any other country bands as such. I get Bernie Green saying, ‘I’ve been around as long as you,’ but if you go to Venice Street School in Anfield you’d find the records that I had a band in that school when I was 11. Bernie Green is about five years younger than me so I’ve got to be ahead of him. If you look at the adverts in the paper you’ll find my name well ahead of anyone else in Liverpool – before The Beatles or anyone.”
Hank and Jimmie Rodgers
“There was a program that came on the radio called Morning Star and they played Jimmie Rodgers. I was fascinated by his voice. I listened to the whole program, which finished about 8:50am, and then I ran to school. When I got there, the headmaster said; ‘Where you been?’, because if you were late you used to get the stick in those days – so I got a good belting with the stick – and I said; ‘I’ve been listening to Jimmie Rodgers’. He said; ‘Well you tell Jimmie Rodgers that when I’ve finished with you, I will give him the same!”
Ralph picked up the accordion at the age of 10 and became one of the best accordion players in Liverpool.
“The first Hank Williams record in Liverpool was bought by me,” insisted Ralph. “Actually I got it off the jukebox at the Bluebird Cafe and the manager pinched the record. I was so madly in love with the record and before he could change the record over he stole it off and gave it to me. It was ‘Lovesick Blues’. So this was about 1949.
Find out so much more about the acknowledged “Father” of country music in Liverpool in The Country of Liverpool.