2-The History of Hack Martin


It all began one night in June of 1946 when John Haskeill Martin II was born to Hack and Vioma Martin in Morristown, Tennessee……a small town nestled in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. Even though he and his Dad shared the same name, Hack was not considered a “Junior”. He was named by his grandmother, who didn’t like the “Junior” in a name. For most of his early years, he was simply known as “Johnny”, and is still called that by most of his family. Growing up in the mountains, Hack had a rather ordinary childhood, but without much of the musical influence you might expect of someone with this much musical talent. Hardly anyone in his family was musically talented.

Hack’s Dad, Hack (Sr.?), disappeared without a trace when Hack was about 2 or 3 years old. No trace of him has ever been found. His mother re-married in 1955 to one James “Jaybird” McAlister and little Johnny was raised from the age of 9 by his stepfather, whom he grew to love as his own Dad. Jim McAlister was a strict, conservative and proud Tennessee farmer and police officer, who instilled into Johnny the moral values and what he referred often to as “good old horse sense”, that a young man needs.

Hack left home to join the Army in 1963, at the tender age of 17. After Basic Training in Kentucky, and Advanced Training in Georgia, he was sent to Aschaffenburg, Germany, where he met up with some fellas who had a small country band that played on weekends there. Jimmy Williamson and Guy Buckelew taught Hack to play guitar, and it was discovered shortly after that Hack, indeed, did have a singing voice. Returning home in 1966, Hack worked at various jobs, looking for what he wanted to be and what he wanted to do with his life. After one failed marriage, Hack wound up in Central Illinois, where he met and married the woman who would become his “Life Partner”, as he puts it. Vickie (his wife) introduced him to her Aunt, Rachel Jones, who was (and still is) a top promoter in the Country Music business. Rachel started booking Hack on shows with top stars under his given name, “John Haskeill Martin.”

During this tumultous period of Hack’s career, he was asked to fill in for an Opry star one night in a small Illinois town. The backup band for that performance was a well-known Illinois band called “Mike Gentry and the Country Generation”.Hack played a few more shows with this group and still maintains a friendship with them today. Mike Gentry is still Hack’s best friend and a key inflluence in Hack’s music. Hack performed for the next several years in clubs all over the Midwest, polishing his entertainment style doing Classic Country Music.

During this period, Hack performed mostly in nightclubs, taverns, dancehalls and auditorium shows, being mentored by such greats as Bobby Lewis, Little Jimmy Dickens, Cal Smith, Tommy Cash, Bob Luman and the great Ernest Tubb. It was his close friendship with Mr. Tubb that resulted in his name being changed to what it is today. One night in 1979 at a show in Oklahoma with Ernest Tubb, “John Haskeill” was sitting on ET’s bus talking with the driver, Hoot Borden, when Ernest came out of the back of the bus and proclaimed in a loud voice, “JOHN HASKEILL MARTIN!!”. Before Hack could respond, Ernest flatly stated, “You got too darned much NAME, Boy! We need to find a better, more catchy name for you to use in this business.” After several possibilities were tossed about, Ernest settled on Hack’s dad’s name, HACK MARTIN. He took out a napkin from the holder on the table and wrote, twice, “Hack Martin.” “There……it is different, shorter and makes a great looking autograph.” That napkin is still among Hack’s most prized possessions, and he has performed under that name ever since.

In 1981 Hack moved his family to San Antionio, Texas, and was later joined by his close friend Mike “Rowdy” Gentry With the help and influence of many muscian friends (especially Rowdy).;, he met and became friends with several more of Country Music’s legendary stars, including Johnny Bush, Darrell McCall, Kenny Dale, Fiddlin’ Frenchie Burke, Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings. Johnny Bush took Hack under his wing and taught him the ins-and-outs of performing “Texas Style”. Hack fronted Johnny Bush’s world famous band, “The Bandeleros” off and on for several years and he and Johnny still maintain a close friendship today. Bush introduced Hack to Darrell McCall and Hack later went to work with Darrell as part-time Front Man, bus driver, “gopher” and bodyguard. During his tenure with Bush and McCall, Hack was introduced to Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings. All of these greats were…….and still are……key influences in Hack’s music.

With the help of his friend, Rowdy, Hack returns to Illinois in 1991. Hack continued to perform in nightclubs and dancehalls. His musical style now contained more of the “Texas” influence than it had when he left Illinois in 1981. In 1996, Hack started limiting his live performances and began recording. His first album, “Hack Martin-Country My Way”, was a small underground success and is no longer in print. However, his newer album, “9000 Nightclub Nites”, is fast becoming a hit with fans of “Real” Country Music. And as this is written, Hack is working on reviving his live performance career. This site will contain his performance schedule when Hack does go back to performing.

Hack (below) with longtime friend and mentor, Ernest Tubb


(Click on pic for a larger view)