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hank ballard

Hank Ballard

b. John Henry Kendricks a.k.a Henry Bernard Ballard, 18th November 1927, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.

d. 2nd March 2003, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

Hank Ballard was the lead vocalist of Hank Ballard and The Midnighters, and was one of the initial R&B artists to become credited as one of the initial Rock N’Roll artists.

Hank was also, the author of the hit song ‘The Twist’.

Born in Hank and his brother, Dove spent their adolescence in Bessemer, Alabama.

The siblings attended the local school in the town.

Hank's father was Dove Ballard (Sr.), his mother was Sie Bell Hendricks.

After their father died, Hank lived with his paternal aunt and her husband.

He began singing in church, later to return to Detroit as a teenager.

Hank worked on the assembly line for Ford for a while in Detroit.

Hank BallardHank Ballard

'Every Beat Of My Heart' b/w 'All Night Long' - 1952 / 'Get It' b/w 'No It Ain't' - 1953

In 1953, Hank was enlisted into the ranks of the Royals, a doo wop group, who had previously been discovered by Johnny Otis.

The Royals were signed to Federal Records, (a subsidiary of King Records), based in Cincinnati.

The Royals line-up included Hank, Henry Booth (b. 7th March 1934, Alabama, U.S.A. d. 1978), Charles Sutton, Sonny Woods (d. 1984) and Alonzo Tucker (the guitarist).

Hank replaced the previous singer Lawson Smith.

The Royals debut release was ‘Every Beat Of My Heart’ b/w ‘All Night Long’ (1952), which was followed by several further Federal singles, released between 1952 and 1958.

Hank Ballard

Hank Ballard and Midnighters in 1955: From top left: Sonny Woods, Lawson Smith, Cal Green, Henry Booth and Hank Ballard.

Around 1954 the group changed their name to The Midnighters.

The Midnighters comprised of:

Hank Ballard

Sonny Woods

Lawson Smith

Cal Green


Henry Booth

Another group existed called the The ‘5’ Royales, thus the name change to avoid any confusion.

In 1954, Hank penned the song ‘Work with Me, Annie’ b/w ‘Until I Die’ that was drawn from a previous release entitled ‘Get It’ b/w ‘No It Ain’t’ recorded whilst the group were called the Royals.

‘Work with Me, Annie’ became The Midnighters' first major R&B hit.

The single spent seven weeks at number 1 on the R&B charts.

Further response songs followed, including ‘Annie Had a Baby’ b/w ‘She's The One’ and ‘Annie's Aunt Fannie’ b/w ‘Crazy Loving’ (both in 1954).

These songs were lyrically explicit, which limited the group’s radio exposure.

The Midnighters realised four further R&B chart hits in 1954 and 1955.

Hank BallardHank BallardHank BallardHank Ballard

hank ballard and the midnighters - 1957 / singing and swinging - 1959 / mo rhythm and blues - 1960 / the one and only - 1960

By 1959, The Midnighters were becoming billed as ‘Hank Ballard and The Midnighters’.

The group also switched from the Federal to the King imprint.

Hank Ballard

hank in 1959

Between 1959 and 1961 the group achieved further R&B and Pop charts hits.

‘Teardrops on Your Letter’ b/w ‘The Twist’, reached number 4 R&B hit in 1960.

The flip side of this single became a huge hit, when covered by Chubby Checker.

The song went to number 1 on the pop charts in 1961, and again in 1962.

Hank BallardHank BallardHank BallardHank Ballard

let's go again - 1961 / the 1963 sound of hank ballard and the midnighters - 1963 / biggest hits - 1963 / a star in your eyes - 1964

Hank Ballard & the Midnighters further singles included ‘Finger Poppin' Time’ b/w ‘I Love You, I Love You So-O-O’ (in 1960) and ‘Let's Go, Let's Go, Let's Go’ b/w ‘If You'd Forgive Me’ (which both reached number 7 and number 6, respectively, on the Billboard pop charts).

The Midnighters later disbanded in 1965.

Hank then launched a solo career.

In 1968 he released, “’How You Gonna Get Respect (When You Haven't Cut Your Process Yet)’ b/w ‘Teardrops On Your Letter’.

The single reached number 15 on the R&B chart.

Hank BallardHank Ballard

you can't keep a good man down - 1968 / hanging with hank - 1976

James Brown produced Hank’s 1969 album ‘You Can't Keep a Good Man Down’.

In 1972, Hank released ‘From the Love Side’ b/w ‘Finger Poppin' Time’ (credited to Hank Ballard and the Midnight Lighters).

The single reached number 43 on the R&B chart.

The same year, Hank contributed to James Brown’s album ‘Get on the Good Foot’.

During the 1980’s, Hank re-formed The Midnighters and the group performed up until 2002.

On the 2nd of March 2003, Hank died at age 75 of throat cancer in his Los Angeles home.

He was buried at Greenwood Cemetery in Atlanta, Georgia.

Hank Ballard was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

Hank was was the great uncle of NFL player Christian Ballard, and, Florence Ballard, from the Detroit girl group The Supremes, is Hank’s cousin.

Hank Ballard

Real Player


Their Greatest Hits (Federal Records 1954)

The Midnighters, Volume 1 (Federal Records 1955)

The Midnighters, Volume 2 (Federal Records 1957)

Greatest Juke Box Hits (Federal Records 1958)

Singin' And Swingin' (King Records 1959)

The One And Only Hank Ballard (King Records 1960)

Mr Rhythm And Blues (King Records 1960)

Finger Poppin' Time (King Records 1960)

Spotlight On Hank Ballard (King Records 1961)

Dance Along, Sing Along (King Records 1961)

Let's Go Again (King Records 1961)

Jumpin' Hank Ballard (King Records 1962)

The Twistin' Fools (King Records 1962)

The 1963 Sound (King Records 1963)

A Star In Your Eyes (King Records 1964)

Those Lazy, Lazy Days (King Records 1965)

Glad Songs, Sad Songs (King Records 1966)

24 Hit Tunes (King Records 1966)

24 Great Songs (King Records 1968)

You Can't Keep A Good Man Down (King Records 1969)

Hanging With Hank (King Records 1976)

Hank Ballard Live At The Palais (Charly Records 1987)

Naked In The Rain (Charly Records 1993)

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