FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Jack Hannah, one of the founders of the Western band "The Sons of the San Joaquin" and known for his appearances in local commercials and at community events, has died.
A family spokesperson announced that Hannah died of complications of the West Nile Virus.
Jack Hannah founded The Sons of the San Joaquin with his brother Joe and nephew Lon. The critically-acclaimed group started performing together in 1987, released more than a dozen albums, and was inducted into the Western Music Association Hall of Fame in 2006.
Jack Hannah was born in Marshland, Missouri, in 1933 to Lon and Melba Hannah. The family moved to the San Joaquin Valley in 1937, seeking a better life amid the Great Depression.
Before his music career, Jack played football and baseball at Fresno State and became a professional baseball player, pitching in the Milwaukee Braves farm system for six seasons.
After his baseball career, Jack became a counselor and coach at Hoover High School. He led the team to two Valley Championships and was named baseball Coach of the Year for the Western Region United States in 1980 and inducted into the Fresno Athletic Hall of Fame in 1998.
The Sons of the San Joaquin got their start in 1987 almost by accident, when Lon approached his father and uncle with a suggestion that they play sing some cowboy songs for his grandfather's birthday celebration. The brothers had sung at church and around the family ranch when they were younger, but never professionally.
Encouraged by the performance, the trio kept singing together. The group's big break came at the 1989 Elko Nevada Cowboy Poetry Gathering, where they wowed the crowd and the other artists in attendance. That one performance would lead to offers to appear on albums and a recording deal with Warner Bros.
Many of The Sons of the San Joaquin's songs were written by Jack Hannah, and he was awarded with several Songwriter of the Year awards from the Western Music Association.
The group would perform worldwide, but the San Joaquin Valley was never far from their hearts. The trio were known for their appearances at fundraising events across Central California and appeared in a series of memorable advertisements for Evans Feed.
Jack was married for 62 years to the love of his life, Linda, and together they had four children and nine grandchildren.
A family spokesperson said a memorial service will be announced.
The video above is from an earlier story.