Earl Hagn January 2, 1947 - January 16, 2006
By Grady Kerr – Historian and friend
After a six year courageous and hard fought battle with cancer, the great Earl Hagn has died. Earl died at his home in Round Rock, Texas (near Austin) this morning, January 16, 2006 in his sleep at the age of 59.
Thankfully he no longer has to fight those demons and will serve as an inspiration for all of us thanks to his positive attitude and faith during this long ordeal.
His wife Brenda and daughter Heather are in our thoughts and prayers. Services are pending.
Most know Earl as the instantly recognizable bass of the 1983 International Quartet Champions, Side Street Ramblers (w/ Keith Houts, Jim Law, Bill Thornton, Brian Beck, Jim Casey, Dennis Malone). He appeared on the Int’l stage seven times between 1977 and 1991.
Earl was a district champion with the Ramblers winning the SWD championship in 1976 and perhaps becoming the first novice quartet to win the district title. Earl had been a Society member for less than a year when they won (October 23, 1976 in San Antonio).
In 1979 he was on the Int’l stage with the Ramblers as well as becoming a winning chorus gold medalist with the Vocal Majority.
Many will remember seeing Earl on the Int’l contest stage in 1981. Still suffering from a bike accident he had to perform with BOTH arms in slings (color coordinated with his uniform, of course).
During his time with the SSR he traveled around the country singing on “almost every” SWD chapter show as the Ramblers were a very popular, active and devoted show quartet. He also traveled around the world spreading barbershop harmony. Some of his destinations include Australia, New Zealand, England, Switzerland, Italy, Singapore and Austria.
After the Ramblers retired in 1989 he continued to quartet. Earl was active in other foursomes throughout the years as the distinctive bass of Dallas Sound (Keith Houts, Anthony Pennington, Dennis Devenport) as well as Backstage Revival, Impromptu and Players. He has won several Division quartet championships (1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1998).
Continuing his dedication to high standards Earl served his chapter, Dallas Town North, holding almost every position including President, Membership VP, Editor, Assistant Director, Show Chairman and ANYTHING else asked including riser crew. He was their Barbershopper of the Year in1996. He also was awarded the Verdell Anderson Spirit Award in 1997 and 2001. His bulletin, The Voice of the Townsmen won him the 1997 SWD Bulletin Editor of the Year Award
Earl was named SWD Barbershopper of the year for 1996 and received the SWD Award of Excellence in 2001.
He was a member of the SWD Roundup staff for many years as graphic artist contributing to the success of that publication as well as the Voice of the Townsmen when it won the Int’l Bulletin Contest in 1994.
Not well known by many are his many contributions as a graphic artist for chapters, the SWD and the Society. He is the artist who created the historic SWD Roundup Masthead showing all the Int’l quartet champions from the SWD.
He designed the International convention logos from 1988 thru 1998. He also designed many of the graphics for society brochures and other special projects. His work also graces the AIC Masterworks Series, the SWD 50th Anniversary CD, the 2004 Data CD and Golden Memories, The SWD History book and MANY other projects.
A past president of the AIC (Association of International Champions) Earl has also been their editor / publisher and up until recently the layout / graphic artist for the AIC‘s Medallion
Although paid for some of his work over the years I believe it’s fair to say Earl has donated 100 times as much work.
Earl Hagn was a “gentleman barbershopper” of the highest order. Proud and shy he always attempted to be unassuming and low key despite his 6 ft 5 in frame.
Earl’s “presence” was a major part of his contribution, not only from the stage with music but backstage with his personality, charm, kindness, graciousness, integrity, dependability, devotion, optimism, spiritually, support, encouragement and friendship.
All this has rubbed off on everyone he has encountered in his chapter, his district, his society and even with the many Barbershoppers he has met overseas.
Earl had suffered major health issues for the past six years. The loss of his beautiful bass voice and his ongoing battle has been very upsetting to many of his family, friends and fans. In true championship form, his positive attitude and faith during this ordeal has been nothing short of miraculous and an inspiration to all of us.
Recently Earl was named to the SWD Hall of Fame. Those in San Antonio last October were in awe of his acceptance of the award. His speech was eloquent and inspiring. Joining him onstage to “sing” once again was a reunion of the Ramblers (Jim Law, Dennis Malone, Brian Beck, and Keith Houts). It was a lasting memory we all now cherish.
Rest in Peace my old friend, rest in peace.