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Hank Williams

hank williams, hank williams jr

Williams' signature

Hiram King "Hank" Williams /ˈhæŋk ˈwɪljəmz /; September 17, 1923 – January 1, 1953 was an American singer-songwriter and musician Regarded as one of the most significant and influential American singers and songwriters of the 20th century,23 Williams recorded 35 singles five released posthumously that reached the Top 10 of the Billboard Country & Western Best Sellers chart, including 11 that ranked number one three posthumously

Born in Mount Olive, Butler County, Alabama, Williams moved to Georgiana, where he met Rufus Payne, who gave him guitar lessons in exchange for meals or money Payne had a major influence on Williams' later musical style, along with Roy Acuff and Ernest Tubb During this time, Williams informally changed his name to Hank, believing it to be a better name for country musiccitation needed He moved to Montgomery, where he began his music career in 1937, when producers at radio station WSFA hired him to perform and host a 15-minute program He formed as backup the Drifting Cowboys band, which was managed by his mother, and dropped out of school to devote his time to his career

When several of his band members were conscripted into military service during World War II, Williams had trouble with their replacements, and WSFA terminated his contract because of his alcohol abuse Williams eventually married Audrey Sheppard, who was his manager for nearly a decade After recording "Never Again" and "Honky Tonkin'" with Sterling Records, he signed a contract with MGM Records In 1947 he released "Move It on Over", which became a hit, and also joined the Louisiana Hayride radio program One year later, he released a cover of "Lovesick Blues" recorded at Herzog Studio in Cincinnati4, which carried him into the mainstream of music After an initial rejection, Williams joined the Grand Ole Opry He was unable to read or notate music to any significant degree Among the hits he wrote were "Your Cheatin' Heart", "Hey, Good Lookin'", and "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry"

In 1952, he divorced Sheppard and was dismissed by the Grand Ole Opry because of his unreliability and alcohol abuse On January 1, 1953, he suffered heart failure while traveling to perform at a concert in West Virginia, and died as a result His death came in the wake of many years of back pain, alcoholism and prescription drug abuse which led to his poor health and death Despite his short life, Williams is one of the most celebrated and influential musicians of the 20th century, especially in regards to country music The songs he wrote and recorded have been covered by numerous artists and have been hits in various genres He has been inducted into multiple music halls of fame, such as the Country Music Hall of Fame 1961, the Songwriters Hall of Fame 1970, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 1987


  • 1 Life and career
    • 11 1923–1937: Early years
    • 12 Early career
    • 13 1940s
    • 14 1950s
    • 15 Death
    • 16 Personal life
  • 2 Legacy
    • 21 Lawsuits over the estate
      • 211 WSM's Mother's Best Flour
    • 22 Tributes
  • 3 Awards
  • 4 Discography
  • 5 References
    • 51 Works cited
      • 511 Books
      • 512 Journals
  • 6 Further reading
  • 7 External links

Life and careeredit

1923–1937: Early yearsedit

Williams' family house in Georgiana, Alabama

Williams was born in Butler County, Alabama, the son of Jessie Lillybelle "Lillie" née Skipper; August 12, 1898 – February 26, 1955 and Elonzo Huble "Lon" Williams December 22, 1891 – October 25, 1970 His parents married on November 12, 1916 Hank Williams was of English ancestry5678 Elonzo Williams worked as an engineer for the railroads of the WT Smith lumber company He was drafted during World War I, serving from July 1918 until June 19199 He was severely injured after falling from a truck, breaking his collarbone and suffering a severe blow to the head After his return, the family's first child, Irene, was born on August 8, 1922 Another son of theirs died shortly after birth Their third child, Hiram, was born on September 17, 1923, in Mount Olive10 Since Elonzo Williams was a Mason, and his wife was a member of Order of the Eastern Star the child was named after Hiram I of Tyre one of the three founders of the Masons, according to Masonic legend, but his name was misspelled as "Hiriam" on his birth certificate11

As a child, he was nicknamed "Harm" by his family and "Herky" or "Poots" by his friends12 He was born with spina bifida occulta, a birth defect, centered on the spinal column, which gave him lifelong pain – a factor in his later abuse of alcohol and drugs13 Williams' father was frequently relocated by the lumber company railway for which he worked, and the family lived in many southern Alabama towns In 1930, when Williams was seven years old, his father began suffering from facial paralysis At a Veterans Affairs VA clinic in Pensacola, Florida, doctors determined that the cause was a brain aneurysm, and Elonzo was sent to the VA Medical Center in Alexandria, Louisiana He remained hospitalized for eight years, rendering him mostly absent throughout Hiram's childhood14 From that time on, Lillie Williams assumed responsibility for the family

In the fall of 1934 the Williams family moved to Greenville, Alabama, where Lillie opened a boarding house next to the Butler County courthouse15 In 1935 the Williams family settled in Garland, Alabama, where Lillie Williams opened a new boarding house After a while they moved with his cousin Opal McNeil to Georgiana, Alabama16 where Lillie managed to find several side jobs to support her children, despite the bleak economic climate of the Great Depression She worked in a cannery and served as a night-shift nurse in the local hospital17

Their first house burned and the family lost its possessions They moved to a new house on the other side of town on Rose Street, which Williams' mother soon turned into a boarding house The house had a small garden, on which they grew diverse crops that Williams and his sister Irene sold around Georgiana18 At a chance meeting in Georgiana, Hank Williams met US Representative J Lister Hill while he was campaigning across Alabama Williams told Hill that his mother was interested to talk with him about his problems and her need to collect Elonzo Williams' disability pension With Hill's help, the family began collecting the money19 Despite his medical condition, the family managed fairly well financially throughout the Great Depression20

There are several versions of how Williams got his first guitar His mother stated that she bought it with money from selling peanuts, but many other prominent residents of the town claimed to have been the one who purchased the guitar for him While living in Georgiana, Williams met Rufus "Tee-Tot" Payne, a street performer Payne gave Williams guitar lessons in exchange for meals prepared by Lillie Williams or money2122 Payne's base musical style was blues He taught Williams chords, chord progressions, bass turns, and the musical style of accompaniment that he would use in most of his future songwriting Later on, Williams recorded one of the songs that Payne taught him, "My Bucket's Got a Hole in It"23 Williams musical style contained influences from Payne along with several other country influences, among them "the Singing Brakeman" Jimmie Rodgers, Moon Mullican, and Roy Acuff24 In 1937 Williams got into a fight with his physical education coach about exercises the coach wanted him to do His mother subsequently demanded that the school board terminate the coach; when they refused, the family moved to Montgomery, Alabama Payne and Williams lost touch, though eventually, Payne also moved to Montgomery, where he died in poverty in 1939 Williams later credited him as his only teacher25

Early careeredit

Hank Williams playing guitar in Montgomery, Alabama in 1938

In July 1937, the Williams and McNeil families opened a boarding house on South Perry Street in downtown Montgomery It was at this time that Williams decided to change his name informally from Hiram to Hank, a name he said was better suited to his desired career in country music During the same year he participated in a talent show at the Empire Theater He won the first prize of $15, singing his first original song "WPA Blues" Williams wrote the lyrics and used the tune of Riley Puckett's "Dissatisfied"26 He never learned to read music and, for the rest of his career, based his compositions in storytelling27 After school and on weekends Williams sang and played his Silvertone guitar on the sidewalk in front of the WSFA radio studios28 His recent win at the Empire Theater and the street performances caught the attention of WSFA producers who occasionally invited him to perform on air29 So many listeners contacted the radio station asking for more of "the singing kid" that the producers hired him to host his own 15-minute show twice a week for a weekly salary of US$15 equivalent to US$24990 in 201730

In August 1938, Elonzo Williams was temporarily released from the hospital He showed up unannounced at the family's home in Montgomery Lillie was unwilling to let him reclaim his position at the head of the household, so he stayed only long enough to celebrate Williams' birthday in September before he returned to the medical center in Louisiana28

Williams' successful radio show fueled his entry into a music career His salary was enough for him to start his own band, which he dubbed the Drifting Cowboys The original members were guitarist Braxton Schuffert, fiddler Freddie Beach, and comedian Smith "Hezzy" Adair James E Jimmy Porter was the youngest, being only 13 when he started playing steel guitar for Williams Arthur Whiting was also a guitarist for The Drifting Cowboys31 The band traveled throughout central and southern Alabama performing in clubs and at private parties James Ellis Garner later played fiddle for him Lillie Williams became the Drifting Cowboys' manager Williams dropped out of school in October 1939 so that the Drifting Cowboys could work full-time13 Lillie Williams began booking show dates, negotiating prices and driving them to some of their shows Now free to travel without Williams' schooling taking precedence, the band could tour as far away as western Georgia and the Florida Panhandle The band started to play in theaters before the start of the movies and later in honky-tonks Williams' alcohol problem started during the tours, on occasion spending an important part of the show revenues Meanwhile, between tour schedules, Williams returned to Montgomery to host his radio show32


The American entry into World War II in 1941 marked the beginning of hard times for Williams All his band members were drafted to serve in the military, while he got a 4-F deferment from the military draft after falling from a bull during a rodeo in Texas Many of their replacements refused to continue playing in the band because of Williams' worsening alcoholism33 He continued to show up for his radio show intoxicated, so in August 1942 radio station WSFA fired him for "habitual drunkenness" During one of his concerts Williams met backstage his idol, Grand Ole Opry star Roy Acuff,34 who later warned him of the dangers of alcohol, saying, "You've got a million-dollar talent, son, but a ten-cent brain"35

He worked for the rest of the war in a shipbuilding company in Mobile, Alabama, as well as singing in bars for soldiers In 1943 Williams met Audrey Sheppard on a medicine show in Banks, Alabama Williams and Sheppard lived and worked together in Mobile,36 Sheppard later told Williams that she wanted to move to Montgomery with him and start a band together and help him regain his radio show The couple were married in 1944 in a Texaco Station in Andalusia, Alabama, by a justice of the peace The marriage was declared illegal, since Sheppard's divorce from her previous husband did not comply with the legally required sixty-day trial reconciliation3738

Hank Williams, Audrey Sheppard Williams and the Drifting Cowboys band

In 1945, when he was back in Montgomery, Williams started to perform again for radio station WSFA He wrote songs weekly to perform during the shows39 As a result of the new variety of his repertoire, Williams published his first song book, Original Songs of Hank Williams40 The book only listed lyrics, since its main purpose was to attract more audience It included ten songs: "Mother Is Gone", "Won't You Please Come Back", "My Darling Baby Girl" with Audrey Sheppard, "Grandad's Musket", "I Just Wish I Could Forget", "Let's Turn Back the Years", "Honkey-Tonkey", "I Loved No One But You", "A Tramp on the Street", and "You'll Love Me Again"41 Williams became recognized as a songwriter,42 Sheppard became his manager and occasionally accompanied him on duets in some of his live concerts

On September 14, 1946, Williams auditioned for Nashville's Grand Ole Opry but was rejected After the failure of his audition, Williams and Audrey Sheppard tried to interest the recently formed music publishing firm Acuff-Rose Music Williams and his wife approached Fred Rose, the president of the company, during one of his habitual ping-pong games at WSM radio studios Audrey Williams asked Rose if her husband could sing a song for him on that moment,43 Rose agreed, and he liked Williams' musical style44 Rose signed Williams to a six-song contract, and leveraged this deal to sign Williams with Sterling Records On December 11, 1946, in his first recording session, he recorded "Wealth Won't Save Your Soul", "Calling You", "Never Again Will I Knock on Your Door", and "When God Comes and Gathers His Jewels"40 The recordings "Never Again" and "Honky Tonkin'" became successful, and earned Williams the attention of MGM Records45

Williams signed with MGM Records in 1947 and released "Move It on Over", which became a massive country hit In 1948 he moved to Shreveport, Louisiana, and he joined the Louisiana Hayride, a radio show broadcast that propelled him into living rooms all over the southeast appearing on weekend shows Williams eventually started to host a show on KWKH and started touring across western Louisiana and eastern Texas, always returning on Saturdays for the weekly broadcast of the Hayride46 After a few more moderate hits, in 1949 he released his version of the 1922 Cliff Friend & Irving Mills song "Lovesick Blues",47 made popular by Rex Griffin Williams' version became a huge country hit; the song stayed at number one on the Billboard charts over four consecutive months,48 crossing over to mainstream audiences and gaining Williams a place in the Grand Ole Opry49 On June 11, 1949, Williams made his debut at the Grand Ole Opry, where he became the first performer to receive six encores50 He brought together Bob McNett guitar, Hillous Butrum bass, Jerry Rivers fiddle and Don Helms steel guitar to form the most famous version of the Drifting Cowboys, earning an estimated US$1,000 per show equivalent to US$10,0657 in 201730 That year Audrey Williams gave birth to Randall Hank Williams Hank Williams, Jr51 During 1949, he joined the first European tour of the Grand Ole Opry, performing in military bases in England, Germany and Azores52 Williams released seven hit songs after "Lovesick Blues", including "Wedding Bells",47 "Mind Your Own Business", "You're Gonna Change Or I'm Gonna Leave", and "My Bucket's Got a Hole in It"53


In 1950, Williams began recording as "Luke the Drifter" for his religious-themed recordings, many of which are recitations rather than singing Fearful that disc jockeys and jukebox operators would hesitate to accept these unusual recordings, Williams used this alias to avoid hurting the marketability of his name54 Although the real identity of Luke the Drifter was supposed to be anonymous, Williams often performed part of the material of the recordings on stage Most of the material was written by Williams, in cases with the help of Fred Rose and his son Wesley55 The songs depicted Luke the Drifter traveling around from place to place, narrating stories from different characters and philosophizing about life5657 Some of the compositions were accompanied by a pipe organ54

Hank Williams in concert in 1951

Around this time Williams released more hit songs, such as "My Son Calls Another Man Daddy", "They'll Never Take Her Love from Me", "Why Should We Try Anymore", "Nobody's Lonesome for Me", "Long Gone Lonesome Blues", "Why Don't You Love Me", "Moanin' the Blues", and "I Just Don't Like This Kind of Living"58 In 1951 "Dear John" became a hit, but it was the flip side, "Cold, Cold Heart", that became one of his most-recognized songs A pop cover version by Tony Bennett released the same year stayed on the charts for 27 weeks, peaking at number one59

Hank's career reached a peak in August–September 1951 with his Hadacol tour of the US with actor Bob Hope and other luminaries During the tour, Hank was photographed signing a motion picture deal with MGM In October Hank recorded a demo, "There's a Tear in My Beer" for a friend, "Big Bill Lister", who recorded it in the studio On November 14, 1951 Hank flew to New York with his steel guitar player Don Helms where he appeared on television for the first time on "The Perry Como Show" There he and Perry sang "Hey Good Lookin'" Photos but no existing footage remain of his appearance

In November 1951 Hank suffered a fall during a hunting trip with his fiddler Jerry Rivers in Franklin, Tennessee The fall reactivated his old back pains He later started to consume painkillers, including morphine, and alcohol to ease the pain51 On May 21, he had been admitted to North Louisiana Sanitarium for the treatment of his alcoholism, leaving on May 2460 On December 13, 1951 he had a spinal fusion at the Vanderbilt University Hospital, being released on December 2460 During his recovery, he lived with his mother in Montgomery, and later moved to Nashville with Ray Price61

During March and April 1952 Hank flew to New York with steel guitarist Don Helms, where he made two appearances with other Grand Ole Opry members on "The Kate Smith Show" He sang "Cold, Cold Heart," "Hey Good Lookin'," "Glory Bound Train" and "I Saw The Light" with other cast members, and a duet, "I Can't Help It if I'm Still in Love with You" with Anita Carter Footage remains of these appearances That spring he had a brief affair with dancer Bobbi Jett, with whom he fathered a daughter, Jett Williams born January 6, 1953, two days after his interment

In June 1952, he recorded "Jambalaya," "Window Shopping," "Settin' the Woods on Fire," and "I'll Never Get out of this World Alive" In early July, Audrey Williams divorced Hank The next day he recorded "You Win Again" and "I Won't be Home No More" About this time he met Billie Jean Jones, a girlfriend of country singer Faron Young, at the Grand Ole Opry As a girl, Billy had lived down the street from Hank when he was with the Louisiana Hayride, and now Hank began to visit her frequently in Shreveport, causing him to miss many Grand Ole Opry appearances

On August 11, 1952, Williams was dismissed from the Grand Ole Opry for habitual drunkenness and missing shows He returned to Shreveport, Louisiana to perform in KWKH and WBAM shows and in the Louisiana Hayride, for which he toured again His performances were acclaimed when he was sober, but despite the efforts of his work associates to get him to shows sober, his abuse of alcohol resulted in occasions when he did not appear or his performances were poor62 In October 1952 he married Billie Jean Jones63

During his last recording session on September 23, 1952, Williams recorded "Kaw-Liga," along with "Your Cheatin' Heart," "Take These Chains from My Heart," and "I Could Never be Ashamed of You" Due to Williams' excesses, Fred Rose stopped working with him By the end of 1952, Williams had started to suffer heart problems51 He met Horace "Toby" Marshall in Oklahoma City, who said that he was a doctor Marshall had been previously convicted for forgery, and had been paroled and released from the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in 1951 Among other fake titles he said that he was a Doctor of Science He purchased the DSC title for $25 from the Chicago School of Applied Science; in the diploma, he requested that the DSC be spelled out as "Doctor of Science and Psychology" Under the name of Dr C W Lemon he prescribed Williams with amphetamines, Seconal, chloral hydrate, and morphine64


Main article: Death of Hank Williams Entrance marker of the Oakwood Annex Cemetery in Montgomery, Alabama

Williams was scheduled to perform at the Municipal Auditorium in Charleston, West Virginia on Wednesday December 31, 1952 Advance ticket sales totaled US$3,500 That day, because of an ice storm in the Nashville area, Williams could not fly, so he hired a college student, Charles Carr, to drive him to the concerts65 Carr called the Charleston auditorium from Knoxville to say that Williams would not arrive on time owing to the ice storm and was ordered to drive Williams to Canton, Ohio, for the New Year's Day concert there66

They arrived at the Andrew Johnson Hotel in Knoxville, Tennessee, where Carr requested a doctor for Williams, as he was feeling the combination of the chloral hydrate and alcohol he had drunk on the way from Montgomery to Knoxville67 Dr PH Cardwell injected Williams with two shots of vitamin B12 that also contained a quarter-grain of morphine Carr and Williams checked out of the hotel; the porters had to carry Williams to the car, as he was coughing and hiccuping68 At around midnight on Thursday January 1, 1953, when they crossed the Tennessee state line and arrived in Bristol, Virginia, Carr stopped at a small all-night restaurant and asked Williams if he wanted to eat Williams said he did not, and those are believed to be his last words69 Carr later drove on until he stopped for fuel at a gas station in Oak Hill, West Virginia, where he realized that Williams was dead The filling station's owner called the chief of the local police70 In Williams' Cadillac the police found some empty beer cans and unfinished handwritten lyrics71

Dr Ivan Malinin performed the autopsy at the Tyree Funeral House Malinin found hemorrhages in the heart and neck and pronounced the cause of death as "insufficiency of the right ventricle of the heart"72 That evening, when the announcer at Canton announced Williams' death to the gathered crowd, they started laughing, thinking that it was just another excuse After Hawkshaw Hawkins and other performers started singing "I Saw the Light" as a tribute to Williams, the crowd, now realizing that he was indeed dead, sang along73 Dr Malinin also wrote that Williams had been severely beaten and kicked in the groin recently Also local magistrate Virgil F Lyons ordered an inquest into Williams' death concerning the welt that was visible on his head74

His body was transported to Montgomery, Alabama, on Friday January 2 and placed in a silver coffin that was first shown at his mother's boarding house for two days His funeral took place on Sunday January 4 at the Montgomery Auditorium, with his coffin placed on the flower-covered stage75 An estimated 15,000 to 25,000 people passed by the silver coffin, and the auditorium was filled with 2,750 mourners76 His funeral was said to have been far larger than any ever held for any other citizen of Alabama and the largest event ever held in Montgomery7778 Williams' remains are interred at the Oakwood Annex in Montgomery The president of MGM told Billboard magazine that the company got only about five requests for pictures of Williams during the weeks before his death, but over three hundred afterwards The local record shops sold out of all of their records, and customers were asking for all records ever released by Williams76 His final single, released in November 1952 while he was still alive, was titled "I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive" "Your Cheatin' Heart" was written and recorded in September 1952 but released in late January 1953 after Williams' death The song, backed by "Kaw-Liga," was number one on the country charts for six weeks It provided the title for the 1964 biographical film of the same name, which starred George Hamilton79 "Take These Chains From My Heart" was released in April 1953 and went to #1 on the country charts "I Won't Be Home No More," released in July, went to #3, and an overdubbed demo, "Weary Blues From Waitin,'" written with Ray Price, went to #7

Personal lifeedit

On December 15, 1944, Williams married Audrey Sheppard It was her second marriage and his first Their son, Randall Hank Williams, who would achieve fame in his own right as Hank Williams, Jr, was born on May 26, 1949 The marriage, always turbulent, rapidly disintegrated, and Williams developed a serious problem with alcohol, morphine, and other painkillers prescribed for him to ease the severe back pain caused by his spina bifida13 The couple divorced on May 29, 195280

In June 1952, Williams moved in with his mother, even as he released numerous hit songs, such as "Half as Much" in April, "Jambalaya On the Bayou" in July, "Settin' the Woods on Fire"/"You Win Again" in September, and "I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive" in November His substance abuse problems continued to spiral out of control as he moved to Nashville and officially divorced his wife81 A relationship with a woman named Bobbie Jett during this period resulted in a daughter, Jett Williams, who was born five days after Williams' death His mother adopted Jett, who was made a ward of the state and then adopted by another couple after her grandmother died Jett Williams did not learn that she was Hank Williams' daughter until the early 1980s82

On October 18, 1952, Williams and Billie Jean Jones Eshlimar were married in Minden, Louisiana63 by a justice of the peace73 It was the second marriage for both both being divorced with children63 The next day two public ceremonies were also held at the New Orleans Civic Auditorium, where 14,000 seats were sold for each73 After Williams' death, a judge ruled that the wedding was not legal because Jones Eshlimar's divorce had not become final until eleven days after she married Williams Williams' first wife, Audrey, and his mother, Lillie Williams, were the driving forces behind having the marriage declared invalid and pursued the matter for years Williams had also married Audrey Sheppard before her divorce was final, on the tenth day of a required 60-day reconciliation period83

Williams was a vocal supporter of Dwight D Eisenhower According to singer Jo Stafford, he sent Eisenhower a telegram on his birthday prior to the 1952 presidential election informing him that Williams considered it a personal honor to endorse a military figure to lead the nation in its coming future84


Hank is widely recognized as "The King Of Country Music", a title he shares with fellow artists Roy Acuff and George Strait

Hank Williams' star at 6400 Hollywood Boulevard, on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Alabama governor Gordon Persons officially proclaimed September 21 "Hank Williams Day" The first celebration, in 1954 featured the unveiling of a monument at the Cramton Bowl, that was later placed in the grave site of Williams The ceremony featured Ferlin Husky interpreting "I Saw the Light"85

Williams had 11 number one country hits in his career "Lovesick Blues", "Long Gone Lonesome Blues", "Why Don't You Love Me", "Moanin' the Blues", "Cold, Cold Heart", "Hey, Good Lookin'", "Jambalaya On the Bayou", "I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive", "Kaw-Liga", "Your Cheatin' Heart", and "Take These Chains from My Heart", as well as many other top ten hits86

Hank Williams III, his grandson, is also a musician

On February 8, 1960, Williams' star was placed at 6400 Hollywood Boulevard on the Hollywood Walk of Fame87 He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame88 in 1961 and into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in 198589 When Downbeat magazine took a poll the year after Hank's death, he was voted the most popular country and Western performer of all time—ahead of such giants as Jimmie Rodgers, Roy Acuff, Red Foley, and Ernest Tubb90 In 1977, a national organization of CB truck drivers voted "Your Cheatin' Heart" as their favorite record of all time91 In 1987, he was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame under the category Early Influence92 He was ranked second in CMT's 40 Greatest Men of Country Music in 2003, behind only Johnny Cash His son, Hank Jr, was ranked on the same list93 In 2004 Rolling Stone ranked him number 74 on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time94 The website Acclaimedmusic, which collates recommendations of albums and recording artists, has a year-by-year recommendation for top artists Hank Williams is ranked first for the decade 1940–1949 for his song "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" Many artists of the 1950s and 1960s, including Elvis Presley,95 Bob Dylan,Tammy Wynette, David Houston, Jerry Lee Lewis, Merle Haggard,96 Gene Vincent,97 Carl Perkins,98 Ricky Nelson,99 Jack Scott,100 and Conway Twitty101 recorded Williams songs during their careers

In 2011 Williams' 1949 MGM number one hit, "Lovesick Blues", was inducted into the Recording Academy Grammy Hall of Fame102 The same year Hank Williams: The Complete Mother's Best Recordings  Plus! was honored with a Grammy nomination for Best Historical Album103 In 1999, Williams was inducted into the Native American Music Hall of Fame104 On April 12, 2010, the Pulitzer Prize Board awarded Williams a posthumous special citation that paid tribute to his "craftsmanship as a songwriter who expressed universal feelings with poignant simplicity and played a pivotal role in transforming country music into a major musical and cultural force in American life"105 Keeping his legacy alive, Williams' son, Hank Williams, Jr, daughter Jett Williams, grandson Hank Williams III, and granddaughters Hilary Williams and Holly Williams are also country musicians106

In 2006, a janitor of Sony/ATV Music Publishing found in a dumpster the unfinished lyrics written by Williams that had been found in his car the night he died The worker claimed that she sold Williams' notes to a representative of the Honky-Tonk Hall of Fame and the Rock-N-Roll Roadshow The janitor was accused of theft, but the charges were later dropped when a judge determined that her version of events was true The unfinished lyrics were later returned to Sony/ATV, which handed them to Bob Dylan in 2008 to complete the songs for a new album Ultimately, the completion of the album included recordings by Alan Jackson, Norah Jones, Jack White, Lucinda Williams, Vince Gill, Rodney Crowell, Patty Loveless, Levon Helm, Jakob Dylan, Sheryl Crow and Merle Haggard The album, named The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams was released on October 4, 2011107108

Material recorded by Williams, originally intended for radio broadcasts to be played when he was on tour, or for its distribution to radio stations nationwide resurfaced throughout time109 In 1993, a double-disc set of recordings of Williams for the Health & Happiness Show was released110 Broadcast in 1949, the shows were recorded for the promotion of Hadacol The set was re-released on Hank Williams: The Legend Begins in 2011 The album included unreleased songs "Fan It" and "Alexander's Ragtime Band", recorded by Williams at age fifteen; the homemade recordings of him singing "Freight Train Blues", "New San Antonio Rose", "St Louis Blues" and "Greenback Dollar" at age eighteen; and a recording for the 1951 March of Dimes111 In May 2014, further radio recordings by Williams were released The Garden Spot Programs, 1950, a series of publicity segments for plant nursery Naughton Farms originally aired in 1950 The recordings were found by collector George Gimarc at radio station KSIB in Creston, Iowa112 Gimarc contacted Williams' daughter Jett, and Colin Escott, writer of a biography book on Williams The material was restored and remastered by Michael Graves and released by Omnivore Recordings113114

In June 2016 British actor Tom Hiddleston portrayed Williams in the biopic I Saw the Light, based on Colin Escott's 1994 book Hank Williams: The Biography Marc Abraham directed the film Filming took place in October through December 2014 and the film was released in 2016115

Lawsuits over the estateedit

After Williams' death, Audrey Williams filed a suit in Nashville against MGM Records and Acuff-Rose The suit demanded that both of the publishing companies continue to pay her half of the royalties from Hank Williams' records Williams had an agreement giving his first wife half of the royalties, but allegedly there was no clarification that the deal was valid after his death Because Williams may have left no will, the disposition of the other fifty percent was considered uncertain; those involved included the second Mrs Williams and her daughter and Hank Williams' mother and sister116 On October 22, 1975, a federal judge in Atlanta, Georgia, finally ruled Jones Eshlimar's marriage was valid and that half of Williams' future royalties belonged to her117

WSM's Mother's Best Flouredit

In 1951, Williams hosted a fifteen-minute show for Mother's Best flour in WSM radio Due to Williams' tour schedules some of the shows were previously recorded to be played in his absence118 The original acetates made their way to the possession of Jett Williams Prior to that, duplicates were made and intended to be published by a third party In February 2005, the Tennessee Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling stating that Williams' heirs—son, Hank Williams Jr, and daughter, Jett Williams—have the sole rights to sell his recordings made for a Nashville radio station in 1951 The court rejected claims made by Polygram Records and Legacy Entertainment in releasing recordings Williams made for the Mother's Best Flour Show The recordings, which Legacy Entertainment acquired in 1997, include live versions of Williams' hits and his cover version of other songs Polygram contended that Williams' contract with MGM Records, which Polygram now owns, gave them rights to release the radio recordings A 3-CD selection of the tracks, restored by Joe Palmaccio, was released by Time-Life in October 2008 titled The Unreleased Recordings119


Main article: List of tributes to Hank Williams


Year Award Awards Notes
1989 Grammy for Best Country Vocal Collaboration "There's a Tear in My Beer"120 Grammy with Hank Williams, Jr
1989 Music Video of the Year CMA with Hank Williams, Jr
1989 Vocal Event of the Year CMA with Hank Williams, Jr
1989 Video of the Year Academy of Country Music with Hank Williams, Jr
1990 Vocal Collaboration of the Year TNN/Music City News with Hank Williams, Jr
1990 Video of the Year TNN/Music City News with Hank Williams, Jr
2010 Special Awards and Citation for his pivotal role in transforming country music The Pulitzer Prize105 Posthumously


Main article: Hank Williams discography See also: List of songs written by Hank Williams


  1. ^ Hank Williams Biography – Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum Retrieved February 11, 2015
  2. ^ "Hank Williams" Sputnik Music Retrieved September 8, 2014 
  3. ^ "I Saw the Light: Hank Williams' Sixty Years of Influence on American Music" The New School Retrieved September 8, 2014 – via YouTube 
  4. ^ "Historic Herzog" The Cincinnati Music Heritage Foundation Retrieved 2017-06-09 
  5. ^ "Book One – Darling Fan and a Further Quintet of Essays : Chapter One – Luke the Drifter and the Secrets of Country" Txt Smashwordscom Retrieved March 6, 2016 
  6. ^ "Selected Writings @ Ourstorycom The Hiram King and the Secrets of Country" OurStorycom October 2, 1954 Retrieved March 6, 2016 
  7. ^ Beal, Richard February 9, 2011 "Hank Williams" Richardbealblogcom Retrieved March 6, 2016 
  8. ^ "Hank Williams - 40 Greatest Hits" Newburycomicscom Archived from the original on December 29, 2014 Retrieved December 29, 2014 
  9. ^ Koon, George William 1983, p 4
  10. ^ Koon, George William 1983, p 6
  11. ^ Flippo, Chet 1985, p 12
  12. ^ Williams, Roger M 1981, p 7
  13. ^ a b c Koon, George William 1983, p 10
  14. ^ Williams, Roger M 1981, p 9
  15. ^ Williams, Roger M 1981, p 26
  16. ^ Williams, Roger M 1981, p 18
  17. ^ Williams, Roger M 1981, p 13
  18. ^ Williams, Roger M 1981, p 14
  19. ^ Williams, Roger M 1981, p 27
  20. ^ Hemphill, Paul 2005, p 17
  21. ^ Koon, George William 1983, p 13
  22. ^ Lipsitz, George 1994, p 26
  23. ^ Brackett, David 2000, p 98
  24. ^ Dicaire, David 2007, p p 124
  25. ^ "Rufus Payne, 1884–1939" The Alabama Historical Association The Alabama Historical Association January 11, 2010 Retrieved March 6, 2011 
  26. ^ Koon, George William 1983, p 16
  27. ^ Browne, Ray Broadus 2005 Profiles of Popular Culture: A Reader Popular Press p 66 ISBN 978-0-87972-869-4 
  28. ^ a b Koon, George William 1983, p 153
  29. ^ Koon, George William 1983, p 16, 17
  30. ^ a b Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Community Development Project "Consumer Price Index estimate 1800–" Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Retrieved January 2, 2017 
  31. ^ Koon, George William 1983, p 11
  32. ^ Hemphill, Paul 2005, p 34
  33. ^ Hemphill, Paul 2005, p 39
  34. ^ Cusic, Don 2008, p 61
  35. ^ Hemphill, Paul 2005, p 40
  36. ^ Lipsitz, George 1994, p 27
  37. ^ Lipsitz, George 1994, p 28
  38. ^ Koon, George William 1983, p 19
  39. ^ Williams, Roger M 1981, p 42
  40. ^ a b Cusic, Don p61
  41. ^ Koon, George William 1983, p 111
  42. ^ Williams, Roger M 1981, p 42, 59
  43. ^ Williams, Roger M 1981, p 59
  44. ^ Williams, Roger M 1981, p 60
  45. ^ Young, William H; Young, Nancy K 2010, p 234
  46. ^ Williams, Roger M 1981, p 70, 71
  47. ^ a b Gilliland, John 1969 "Show 9 – Tennessee Firebird: American country music before and after Elvis Part 1" audio Pop Chronicles University of North Texas Libraries 
  48. ^ Keillor, Garrison "Long Gone Daddy: A Biography of Hank Williams, Country Music's Tragic Hero" New York Times September 25, 2005: G18
  49. ^ Browne, Pat 2001, p p 913
  50. ^ "Hank Williams, Sr, makes his Grand Ole Opry debut" Historycom Retrieved March 7, 2011 
  51. ^ a b c "Hank Williams Biography" AOL Music AOL Archived from the original on September 29, 2012 Retrieved March 7, 2011 
  52. ^ Evans, Mike 2006, p 15
  53. ^ Young, William H; Young, Nancy K 2010, p 235
  54. ^ a b Ching, Barbara 2003, p p 55
  55. ^ Williams, Roger M 1981, p 127
  56. ^ Bernstein, Cynthia; Nunnally, Thomas; Sabino, Robin 1997, p 250
  57. ^ Peppiatt, Francesca 2004, p 82
  58. ^ "The Year's Top Country and Western Records" Billboard January 13, 1951 p 9 
  59. ^ Whitburn, Joel 1991, p 26
  60. ^ a b Koon, George William 1983, p 153, 154
  61. ^ Wolff, Kurt 2000, p 160
  62. ^ Lornell, Kip; Laird, Tracey 2008, p p 82
  63. ^ a b c Koon, George William 1983, p 70
  64. ^ Koon, George William 1983, p 74
  65. ^ Tharpe, Jim July 2, 2013 "Hank Williams' last ride: Driver recalls lonesome end" AccessAtlantacom Retrieved June 13, 2016 
  66. ^ Lilly, John "Hank's Lost Charleston Show" West Virginia Division of Culture and History Retrieved March 8, 2011 
  67. ^ Olson, Ted 2004, p 296
  68. ^ Olson, Ted 2004, p 298
  69. ^ Olson, Ted 2004, p 300
  70. ^ Olson, Ted 2004, p 303
  71. ^ Koon, George William 1983, p 79
  72. ^ Olson, Ted 2004, p 306
  73. ^ a b c Celon, Curtis 1995, p 80
  74. ^ Escott, Colin; Merritt, George; MacEwen, William 1994, p 243
  75. ^ Stanton, Scott 2003, p p 262
  76. ^ a b Peterson, Richard A 1997, p 182
  77. ^ Sheckler Finch, Jackie 2011, p 72, 73
  78. ^ Hank Williams Trail Brochure Alabama Tourism Department Alabama Tourism Department Retrieved March 14, 2011 
  79. ^ Koon, George William; p 161
  80. ^ Williams, Roger M 1981, p 96
  81. ^ Koon, George William 1983, p XII
  82. ^ Williams, Hilary; Roberts, Mary Beth 2010, p 127
  83. ^ Williams, Roger M 1981, p 46
  84. ^ Weston, Paul June 28, 2012 Song of the Open Road: An Autobiography and Other Writings BearManor Media p 195 ISBN 978-1-59393-287-9 
  85. ^ Windham, Kathryn Tucker 2007, p 33
  86. ^ George-Warren, Holly; Romanowski, Patricia; Romanowski Bashe, Patricia; Pareles, Jon 2001, p 1066
  87. ^ "Hank Williams – Hollywood Walk of Fame" Walk of Famecom Hollywood Chamber of Commerce January 28, 2013 
  88. ^ "Full List of Inductees – Hank Williams" The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum Country Music Foundation, Inc Retrieved October 4, 2011 
  89. ^ "1985 Inductee: Lifework Award for Performing Achievement" Alamhoforg The Alabama Music Hall of Fame Archived from the original on February 13, 2003 Retrieved October 4, 2011 
  90. ^ Williams, Roger M 1981, p 140
  91. ^ Caress, Jay p 228
  92. ^ "Hank Williams" Rock and Roll Hall of Fame The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc Retrieved March 15, 2011 
  93. ^ "CMT 40 Greatest Men of Country Music" CMT Retrieved March 14, 2011 
  94. ^ "100 Greatest Artists of All Time" Rolling Stone Issue 946 
  95. ^ "Elvis Presley" AllMusic Retrieved March 14, 2011 
  96. ^ "Hank Williams" AllMusic Retrieved March 14, 2011 
  97. ^ "Gene Vincent" AllMusic Retrieved March 14, 2011 
  98. ^ "Carl Perkins" AllMusic Retrieved March 14, 2011 
  99. ^ "Ricky Nelson" AllMusic Retrieved March 14, 2011 
  100. ^ "Jack Scott" AllMusic Retrieved March 14, 2011 
  101. ^ "Conway Twitty" AllMusic Retrieved March 14, 2011 
  102. ^ "Hank Williams receives additional Grammy Recognition as "Lovesick Blues" inducted into Grammy Hall of Fame" Rodeo Attitude official website Rodeo Attitude, LLC Retrieved March 14, 2011 
  103. ^ "The Beatles' catalogue wins 'Best Historical Album' Grammy" WMMR Greater Media February 14, 2011 Retrieved March 14, 2011 
  104. ^ "Hank Williams: Native American group Inducts Him" Herald-Journal November 9, 1999 Retrieved June 25, 2010 
  105. ^ a b "The 2010 Pulitzer Prize Winners Special Awards and Citations" Official Pulitzer Awards Website Columbia University April 12, 2010 Archived from the original on July 24, 2010 Retrieved November 10, 2011 
  106. ^ "New exhibit explores Hank Williams' family legacy" Yahoo! Associated Press April 17, 2008 Archived from the original on March 18, 2013 Retrieved March 14, 2011 
  107. ^ Flippo, Chet August 25, 2011 "Nashville Skyline: Hank Williams' Life After Death" Country Music Television MTV Networks Retrieved September 6, 2011 
  108. ^ "The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams to be released in October" bobdylancom Retrieved October 4, 2011 
  109. ^ Koon, George William 1983, pp 153–154
  110. ^ "Health and Happiness Show" Allmusic Rovi Corporation Retrieved May 26, 2014 
  111. ^ Flippo, Chet September 15, 2011 "Nashville Skyline: Johnny Cash and Hank Williams: Got Some More Music Here" CMTcom Country Music Television, Inc Retrieved May 26, 2014 
  112. ^ "Hear a newly discovered Hank Williams performance" USA Today March 28, 2014 
  113. ^ "Six Decades Later, A Long-Lost Hank Williams Recording Resurfaces" NPRorg National Public Radio May 18, 2014 Retrieved May 19, 2014 
  114. ^ "Newly Discovered Hank! 'The Garden Spot Programs' 1950" American Standard Time May 24, 2014 
  115. ^ Sean Michaels June 13, 2014 "Tom Hiddleston played country icon Hank Williams in biopic" The Guardian Guardian News and Media Limited Retrieved June 16, 2014 
  116. ^ "File Action to Untangle Hank Williams Estate" Billboard Nielsen Business Media: 15 May 23, 1953 ISSN 0006-2510 Retrieved March 13, 2011 
  117. ^ Koon, George William 1983, p 247
  118. ^ Hilbourn, Robert October 28, 2008 "There's Plenty Cookin'" Los Angeles Times Retrieved March 14, 2011 
  119. ^ Mike Ragogna November 11, 2011 "Mother's Best, Hank's Best: A Conversation With Jett Williams and the Students" The Huffington Post AOL, Inc 
  120. ^ Jan DeKnock February 16, 1990 "Who'll Win The Grammys And the Grammy nominees are " Chicago Tribune Tribune Company p 37 

Works citededit


  • Bernstein, Cynthia; Nunnally, Thomas; Sabino, Robin 1997 Language variety in the South revisited University of Alabama Press ISBN 978-0-8173-0882-7 
  • Brackett, David 2000 Interpreting popular music University of California Press ISBN 978-0-520-22541-1 
  • Browne, Pat 2001 The guide to United States popular culture Popular Press ISBN 978-0-87972-821-2 Retrieved March 6, 2011 
  • Celon, Curtis 1995 Country music culture: from hard times to Heaven Univ Press of Mississippi ISBN 978-1-60473-934-3 Retrieved March 8, 2011 
  • Ching, Barbara 2003 Wrong's What I Do Best: Hard Country Music and Contemporary Culture Oxford University Press ISBN 978-0-19-516942-3 Retrieved March 7, 2011 
  • Cusic, Don 2008 Discovering country music ABC-CLIO ISBN 978-0-313-35245-4 
  • Dicaire, David 2007 The first generation of country music stars: biographies of 50 artists born before 1940 McFarland ISBN 978-0-7864-3021-5 
  • Escott, Colin; Merritt, George; MacEwen, William 1994 Hank Williams: The Biography Hachette Digital, Inc p 307 ISBN 0-316-24986-6 
  • Evans, Mike 2006 Country Music Facts, Figures & Fun AAPPL ISBN 978-1-904332-53-4 
  • George-Warren, Holly; Romanowski, Patricia; Romanowski Bashe, Patricia; Pareles, Jon 2001 The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll Fireside ISBN 978-0-7432-0120-9 
  • Flippo, Chet 1985 Your cheatin' heart:a biography of Hank Williams Doubleday ISBN 978-0-385-19737-3 
  • Hemphill, Paul 2005 Lovesick Blues: The Life of Hank Williams New York: Penguin Group ISBN 0-670-03414-2 
  • Koon, George William 1983 Hank Williams, so lonesome University of Mississippi press ISBN 978-1-57806-283-6 Retrieved March 6, 2011 
  • Lipsitz, George 1994 Rainbow at midnight: labor and culture in the 1940s University of Illinois Press ISBN 978-0-252-06394-7 
  • Lornell, Kip; Laird, Tracey, Kip 2008 Shreveport sounds in black and white Univ Press of Mississippi ISBN 978-1-60473-303-7 CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list link
  • Olson, Ted 2004 Crossroads: A Southern Culture Annual Mercer University Press ISBN 978-0-86554-866-4 Retrieved March 8, 2011 
  • Peppiatt, Francesca 2004 Country Music's Most Wanted: The Top 10 Book of Cheatin' Hearts, Honky-Tonk Tragedies, and Music City Oddities Brassey's ISBN 978-1-57488-593-4 Retrieved March 7, 2011 
  • Peterson, Richard A 1997 Creating country music: fabricating authenticity University of Chicago Press ISBN 978-0-226-66284-8 Retrieved March 8, 2011 
  • Sheckler Finch, Jackie 2011 It Happened in Alabama Globe Pequot ISBN 978-0-7627-6113-5 
  • Stanton, Scott 2003 The tombstone tourist: musicians Simon & Schuster ISBN 978-0-7434-6330-0 Retrieved March 13, 2011 
  • Williams, Hilary; Roberts, Mary Beth 2010 Sign of Life: A Story of Family, Tragedy, Music, and Healing Da Capo Press ISBN 978-0-306-81913-1 
  • Williams, Roger M 1981 Sing a sad song: the life of Hank Williams University of Illinois Press ISBN 978-0-252-00861-0 Retrieved March 6, 2011 
  • Windham, Kathryn Tucker 2007 Alabama, One Big Front Porch NewSouth Books ISBN 978-1-58838-219-1 
  • Whitburn, Joel 1991 Joel Whitburn Presents Billboard #1s, 1950–1991: A Week-by-week Record of Billboard's #1 Hits Record Research ISBN 978-0-89820-080-5 
  • Wolff, Kurt 2000 Country Music: The Rough Guide ; the Complete Guide to Country Music, the Artists, the Songs, and the Stories Behind Them Rough Guides ISBN 978-1-85828-534-4 
  • Young, William H; Young, Nancy K 2010 World War II and the Postwar Years in America: A Historical and Cultural Encyclopedia ABC-CLIO ISBN 978-0-313-35652-0 


  • "The Year's Top Country & Western Artists/The Year's Top Country & Western Records" The Billboard: 19 January 13, 1951 ISSN 0006-2510 Retrieved March 7, 2011 
  • Nielsen Business Media, Inc May 23, 1953 "File Action to Untangle Hank Williams Estate" The Billboard: 15 ISSN 0006-2510 Retrieved March 13, 2011 

Further readingedit

  • Caress, Jay 1979 Hank Williams: Country Music's Tragic King New York: Stein and Day ISBN 978-0-8128-2583-1 OCLC 4492866 
  • Williams, Lycrecia; Dale Vinicur 1989 Still in Love with You: Hank and Audrey Williams Nashville, Tenn: Rutledge Hill Press ISBN 978-1-55853-105-5 OCLC 42469829 
  • Rivers, Jerry 1967 Thurston Moore, ed Hank Williams: From Life to Legend Denver: Heather Enterprises LCCN 67030642 OCLC 902165 

External linksedit

  • Hank Williams on Internet Movie Database
  • Hank Williams at AllMusic
  • Hank Williams at Find a Grave
  • Listing of all Hank Williams' songs and alternatives
  • "Hank Williams" Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 
  • Hank Williams 1923–1953 at Library of Congress Authorities, with 127 catalog records

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