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    Hank Williams Sr.

    Become fan 14 Rate 4 Like & Share
    Genre:Pop, Classical, Gospel, Country
    Rank:1072 history »
    4.0/5 from 4 users

    Most Popular Songs (more)

    3,904 4.0/5
    Blue Eyes Cryin' in the Rain lyrics
    2If The Shoe Fits lyrics
    3I'm So Tired Of It All lyrics
    4If You'll Be a Baby (To Me) lyrics
    5Next Sunday Darling Is My Birthday lyrics
    I've Got My One Way Ticket To The Sky lyrics
    7Half as Much lyrics
    8Little Bocephus lyrics
    9Farther Along lyrics
    10A.K.A. Wham Bam Sam lyrics

    Most Popular Albums (more)

    24 Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 [1977]
    2Hank Williams as Luke the Drifter (10 in.) [1953]
    3Moanin' the Blues [1952]
    4I Saw the Light [1956]
    5Ramblin' Man [1955]
    6Hank Williams Sings [1951]
    7Best of the Early Years [Polymedia]
    8Hank Williams Memorial Album [1953]
    9A Legendary Collection [Mercury Nashville]
    10Honky Tonkin' [MGM] [1953]


    Hank Williams is the father of contemporary country music. Williams
    was a superstar by the age of 25; he was dead at the age of 29. In
    those four short years, he established the rules for all the country
    performers that followed him and, in the process, much of popular
    music. Williams wrote a body of songs that became popular classics,
    and his direct, emotional lyrics and vocals became the standard for
    most popular performers. Williams lived a life as troubled and
    reckless as that depicted in his songs.

    Hank Williams was born in Mount Olive, AL, on September 17, 1923.
    When he was eight years old, Williams was given a guitar by his
    mother. His musical education was provided by a local blues street
    singer, Rufus Payne, who was called Tee Tot. From Tee Tot,
    Williams learned how to play the guitar and sing the blues, which
    would come to provide a strong undercurrent in his songwriting.
    Williams began performing around the Georgiana and Greenville
    areas of Alabama in his early teens. His mother moved the family
    to Montgomery, AL, in 1937, where she opened a boarding house.
    In Montgomery, he formed a band called the Drifting Cowboys
    and landed a regular spot on a local radio station, WSFA, in 1941.
    During his shows, Williams would sing songs from his idol, Roy Acuff,
    as well as several other country hits of the day. WSFA dubbed him
    "the Singing Kid" and Williams stayed with the station for the rest
    of the decade.

    Williams met Audrey Mae Sheppard, a farm girl from Banks, AL,
    in 1943 while he was playing a medicine show. The following year,
    the couple married and moved into Lilly's boarding house. Audrey
    became Williams' manager just before the marriage. By 1946, he
    was a local celebrity, but he was unable to make much headway
    nationally. That year, Hank Williams and Audrey visited Nashville
    with the intent of meeting songwriter/music publisher Fred Rose,
    one of the heads of Acuff-Rose Publishing. Rose liked Williams'
    songs and asked him to record two sessions for Sterling Records,
    which resulted in two singles. Both of the singles — "Never Again"
    in December 1946 and "Honky Tonkin'" in February 1947 — were
    successful and Williams signed a contract with MGM Records early
    in 1947. Rose became the singer's manager and record producer.

    "Move It On Over," released later in 1947, became Hank Williams'
    first single for MGM. It was an immediate hit, climbing into the
    country Top Five. By the summer of 1948, he had joined the
    Louisiana Hayride, appearing both on its tours and radio programs.
    "Honky Tonkin'" was released in 1948, followed by "I'm a Long Gone
    Daddy." While neither song was as successful as "Move It On Over,"
    they were popular, with the latter peaking in the Top Ten. Early in
    1949, he recorded "Lovesick Blues," a Tin Pan Alley song initially
    recorded by Emmett Miller and made popular by Rex Griffin. The
    single became a huge hit upon its release in the spring of 1949,
    staying at number one for 16 weeks and crossing over into the pop
    Top 25. Williams sang the song at the Grand Ole Opry, where he
    performed an unprecedented six encores. He had become a star.

    Hank and Audrey Williams had their first child, Randall Hank, in the
    spring of 1949. Also in the spring, Hank Williams assembled the
    most famous edition of the Drifting Cowboys, featuring guitarist
    Bob McNett, bassist Hillous Butrum, fiddler Jerry Rivers, and steel
    guitarist Don Helms. Soon, he and the band were earning 1,000
    dollars per concert and were selling out shows across the country.
    Williams had no fewer than seven hits in 1949 after "Lovesick Blues,"
    including the Top Fives "Wedding Bells," "Mind Your Own Business,"
    "You're Gonna Change (Or I'm Gonna Leave)," and "My Bucket's Got
    a Hole in It"; in addition to having a string of hit singles in 1950
    including the number ones "Long Gone Lonesome Blues," "Why Don't
    You Love Me," and "Moanin' the Blues"; as well as the Top Tens
    "I Just Don't Like This Kind of Livin'," "My Son Calls Another Man
    Daddy," "They'll Never Take Her Love From Me," "Why Should We
    Try," and "Nobody's Lonesome for Me." That same year, Williams
    began recording a series of spiritual records under the name Luke
    the Drifter.

    Williams continued to rack up hits in 1951, beginning with the Top
    Ten hit "Dear John" and its number one flip-side "Cold Cold Heart."
    That same year, pop vocalist Tony Bennett recorded "Cold, Cold
    Heart" and had a hit, leading to a stream of covers from such
    mainstream artists as Jo Stafford, Guy Mitchell, Frankie Laine,
    Teresa Brewer, and several others. Williams had also begun to
    experience the fruits of crossover success, appearing on the
    Perry Como television show and being part of a package tour
    that also featured Bob Hope, Jack Benny, and Minny Pearl. In
    addition to "Dear John" and "Cold, Cold Heart," Williams had
    several other hits in 1951, including the number one "Hey, Good
    Lookin'" and "Howlin' at the Moon," "I Can't Help It (If I'm Still in
    Love With You)," "Crazy Heart," "Lonesome Whistle," and "Baby,
    We're Really in Love," which all charted in the Top Ten.

    Though his professional career was soaring, Hank Williams'
    personal life was beginning to spin out of control. Before he became
    a star, he had a mild drinking problem, but it had been more or less
    controlled during his first few years of fame. However, as he began
    to earn large amounts of money and spend long times away from
    home, he began to drink frequently. Furthermore, Hank's marriage
    to Audrey was deteriorating. Not only were they fighting, resulting in
    occasional separations, but Audrey was trying to create her own
    recording career without any success. In the fall of 1951, Hank was
    on a hunting trip on his Tennessee farm when he tripped and fell,
    re-activating a dormant back injury. Williams began taking morphine
    and other pain killers for his back and quickly became addicted.

    In January of 1952, Hank and Audrey separated for a final time and
    he headed back to Montgomery to live with his mother. The hits were
    still coming fast for Williams, with "Honky Tonk Blues" hitting number
    two in the spring. In fact, he released five more singles in 1952 —
    "Half As Much," "Jambalaya," "Settin' the Woods on Fire," "You Win
    Again," and "I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive" — which all went
    Top Ten. In spite of all of his success, Hank turned completely
    reckless in 1952, spending nearly all of his waking hours drunk and
    taking drugs, while he was frequently destroying property and
    playing with guns.

    Williams left his mother in early spring, moving in with Ray Price
    in Nashville. In May, Audrey and Hank were officially divorced.
    She was awarded the house and their child, as well as half of his
    future royalties. Williams continued to play a large number of
    concerts, but he was always drunk during the show, or he missed
    the gig altogether. In August, the Grand Ole Opry fired Williams
    for that very reason. He was told that he could return once he was
    sober. Instead of heeding the Opry's warning, he just sank deeper
    into his self-destructive behavior. Soon, his friends were leaving
    him, as the Drifting Cowboys began working with Ray Price and
    Fred Rose no longer supported him. Williams was still playing the
    Louisiana Hayride, but he was performing with local pickup bands
    and was earning reduced wages. That fall, he met Billie Jean Jones
    Eshlimar, the 19-year old daughter of a Louisiana policeman. By
    October, they were married. Hank also signed an agreement to
    support the baby — who had yet to be delivered — of one of his
    other girlfriends, Bobbie Jett, in October. By the end of the year,
    Williams was having heart problems and Toby Marshall, a con-man
    doctor, was giving him various prescription drugs to help soothe
    the pain.

    Hank Williams was scheduled to play a concert in Canton, OH, on
    January 1, 1953. He was scheduled to fly out of Knoxville, TN, on
    New Year's Eve, but the weather was so bad he had to hire a
    chauffeur to drive him to Ohio in his new Cadillac. Before they left
    for Ohio, Williams was injected with two shots of the vitamin B-12
    and morphine by a doctor. Williams got into the backseat of the
    Cadillac with a bottle of whiskey and the teenage chauffeur headed
    out for Canton. The driver was stopped for speeding when the
    policeman noticed that Williams looked like a dead man. Williams
    was taken to a West Virginian hospital and he was officially declared
    dead at 7:00 AM on January 1, 1953. Hank Williams had died in the
    back of the Cadillac, on his way to a concert. The last single released
    in his lifetime was "I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive."

    Hank Williams was buried in Montgomery, AL, three days later. His
    funeral drew a record crowd, larger than any crowd since Jefferson
    Davis was inaugurated as the President of the Confederacy in 1861.
    Dozens of country music stars attended, as did Audrey Williams,
    Billie Jean Jones, and Bobbie Jett, who happened to give birth to a
    daughter three days later. "I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive"
    reached number one immediately after his death and it was followed
    by a number of hit records throughout 1953, including the number
    ones "Your Cheatin' Heart," "Kaw-Liga," and "Take These Chains
    From My Heart."

    After his death, MGM wanted to keep issuing Hank Williams records,
    so they took some of his original demos and overdubbed bands
    onto the original recording. The first of these, "Weary Blues from
    Waitin'," was a hit but the others weren't quite as successful. In
    1961, Hank Williams was one of the first inductees to the Country
    Music Hall of Fame. Throughout the '60s, Williams' records were
    released in overdubbed versions featuring heavy strings, as well
    as reprocessed stereo. For years, these bastardized versions
    were the only records in print and only in the '80s, when his music
    was released on compact disc, was his catalog restored to its
    original form. Even during those years when only overdubbed
    versions of his hits existed, Hank Williams' impact never
    diminished. His songs have become classics, his recordings
    have stood the test of time, and his life story is legendary. It's
    easy to see why Hank Williams is considered by many as the
    defining figure of country music.

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