|Hal Willis, My Pink Cadillac|
Hal Willis was born Leonald Gauthier, in the heart of the logging country of Quebec. He was raised in the little Town of Rouyn. By coincidence, his ancestors who started The Gauthier Line in Canada, came from Rouen in France. The towns have different spellings, but are pronounced the same.
As a teenager, Hal worked in the logging camps with his father and learned the trade very well, but his heart was not in it. His every free moment was spent listening to the radio, either at the logging camp or on his father's battery radio on the farm. The Grand Ole Opry was his favorite program and Hank Williams ws his idol. He vowed that someday he would also sing on the Grand Ole Opry.
Hal got a job singing with Ginger and the Melody Rangers and went from there to doing floor shows with Ginger as a duet in Montreal and upper New York state. Hal was speaking English by then and when George Taylor of Rodeo Records signed him up as the first vocalist on the label, Hal was ready. George Taylor thought that Leonald Francois Joseph Guy Gauthier was not a very commercial name for English country records so since Hal liked Hank Williams so much, they chose the name "Willis" and as an afterthought, "Hal" instead of Hank. One night the great Webb Pierce caught their act in Buffalo, New York at the world famous McVans Nightclub and told them that they belonged in Nashville.
Hal and Ginger were by then getting restless and looking for new fields to conquer, so they took a chance and followed Webb's advice and moved to Nashville, Tennessee and there their dreams were realized. They started appearing as guests on the Grand Ole Opry just a few weeks after they arrived in Nashville. They then both went to work for Marty Robbins while Hal polished his English by doing demo sessions in his spare time for writers and publishing companies.
Things began to happen that made Hal and Ginger very happy. They were asked by Colonel Tom Parker to join the Elvis Presley Show, next Hal's first record on Atlantic called "My Pink Cadillac" was a hit. Hal still kept trying different styles of recordings, but it was not until Hal recorded his famous "The Lumberjack" hit that he got the recognition he deserved. Hal and Ginger each won a BMI award, as well as Hal receiving a gold record for selling over one and a half million records. After that Hal had another Gold Record with "Doggin' In The U.S. Mail".
By this time, Hal and Ginger started writing in earnest and had their songs recorded by some of the all time greats such as: Patsy Cline, Jim Reeves, Ernest Tubb, Bobby Helms, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, Charlie Walker, The Wilburn Bros., etc., etc. No other writers can boast of having had songs recorded by such an array of Hall of Famers.
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