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Hank Penny

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Herbert Clayton Penny (September 18, 1918 – April 17, 1992) was an accomplished banjo player and practitioner of western swing. He worked as a comedian best known for his backwoods character “That Plain Ol’ Country Boy” on TV with Spade Cooley. He was married to country singer Sue Thompson from 1953-63.
Penny was the leader of the Radio Cowboys, which featured guitarist Julian Akins, steel guitarist Sammy Forsmark, tenor banjo player Louis Damont, bassist Carl Stewart, and vocalist, guitarist, and fiddler Sheldon Bennett in the 1930s. At WLW Radio in Cincinnati during World War II, Penny formed the Plantation Boys, which included fiddler Carl Stewart, guitarist/bassist Louis Innis, fiddler Zed Tennis, and lead guitarist Roy Lanham.
Penny had three hits on the Billboard Country Singles chart, “Steel Guitar Stomp” (1946) an instrumental featuring both Noel Boggs on steel guitar and guitarist Merle Travis, “Get Yourself a Red Head” (1946), and his own composition “Bloodshot Eyes” (1950).

Penny’s “Bloodshot Eyes” was also recorded in 1951 by rock and roll singer Wynonie Harris, who turned it into a major rock hit (King 4461). Harris was a big influence on Elvis Presley, who did go to see him play and met him in his formative years and recorded Roy Brown’s Good Rocking Tonight after hearing Wynonie Harris’ hit version. Appreciated by white country music fans and black rock and roll followers alike, “Bloodshot Eyes” became an early landmark in racial integration.

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