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 Hank Williams, Sr

Photo added by Donald Greyfield

Hank Williams, Sr

Birth
Mount Olive, Butler County, Alabama, USA
Death 1 Jan 1953 (aged 29)
Oak Hill, Fayette County, West Virginia, USA
Burial Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama, USA
Plot Hank Williams
Memorial ID 1109 · View Source
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Singer, Songwriter. He received international acclaim for his traditional-style country music sung with his bluesy, Honk a Tonk voice. Having a dozen singles to reach #1 on the Top Ten, the list of his hits is long, given that he lived only 29 years. A example of early Rock n Roll, “Move It On Over” was released in June 1947 reaching #4 on the American Billboard Chart. Although not written by Williams, “Lovesick Blues” was the first song he sung on the Louisiana Hayride, a popular country music radio show aired in Shreveport, Louisiana. With an outstanding success, he recorded it the next year. Written in 1949, “I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry” is listed #111 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and the oldest song on the list. It ranked #3 on the Greatest Country Songs of All Time. Recorded on May 5, 1951, “Cold, Cold Heart” reached #1 on the Country Music charts and was later covered with a pop version by Tony Bennett. Also recorded in 1951 and reaching the #1 slot, “Hey Good Lookin” was inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2001. “Jambalaya” was recorded in 1952 and reached the #1 slot. Recorded just weeks before his death, “Your Cheatin' Heart” was one of five songs released posthumously, and it served as the title of the 1964 film version of his life, which starred George Hamilton. He was the first country music superstar to sell 10 million records from 1947 to 1953. The lyrics of his songs have become classic and are still best-sellers. Born Hiram Williams, the youngest son to Alonzo Williams and his wife Jessie Lillybelle Skipper, he was introduced to music at church where his mother played the organ. Since his father was employed by the railroads, the family traveled from town to town throughout Alabama. Many people influenced his informal musical education. While living with his aunt and uncle, his aunt taught him how to play the guitar. Rufus Payne, an area African American blues street musician taught him and led him to a career in the music profession. In Montgomery, Alabama as a teenager he would sing and play his Sear's Silvertone guitar on the sidewalks for money with his favorite spot being at the front door of the radio station WSFA. Noticing his talent the station manager invited him inside to play on the air. Public interest in the form of letters and phone calls led him to his own fifteen-minute show, twice a week and changing his name to “Hank Williams.” Quitting high school before graduation, he formed a band, the “Drifting Cowboys,” and while still employed at the radio station, they played for parties and gatherings throughout Alabama. At the start of World War II, his entire band was drafted but Hank was declared unfit to serve due having a “bad back.” He began using alcohol and prescription drugs to alleviate the pain. Being habitually drunk impacted his ability to work and he was fired from the radio station and his band suffered. When he was fired from the Grand Ole Opry for being drunk, his band left him. His first marriage to Audrey Sheppard dissolved in the spring of 1952 because of his drinking; many of the melancholy lyrics on his songs were written during this time. The couple had one son, Hank Williams, Jr., who has become a country music star in his own right. Hank fathered a daughter during a relationship and she was born five days after his death. On October 18, 1952, he married Billie Jean Jones Eshliman; this was the second marriage for each. On December 31, 1952, an ice storm kept him from flying to a concert in West Virginia. To keep a concert date in Clanton, Ohio, he decided to have a friend, Charles Carr, drive his 1952 Cadillac while he rode in the back seat drinking and writing songs. Reaching Knoxville, Tennessee, Carr summoned a physician since there was a change in Williams' behavior. Clearing him to finish the trip, the physician injected him with vitamins and Morphine. They continued the road trip until midnight when Carr asked Williams if he wanted anything to eat and the reply was , “No.” Then Carr drove until Oak Hill, Virginia where he stopped for gas. At this point, he realized that William was not sleeping but had died in the back seat of the car some time earlier. His funeral was held at the Montgomery Civic Center Auditorium with 25,000 people standing outside the building to listen to the funeral being broadcast. Country music stars, Roy Acuff, Red Foley, and Ernest Tubb sung during the service. The Alabama Bureau of Tourism and Travel promotes their famous country singer with the “Hank Williams Trail,” which includes his home place, the Hank Williams Museum, Lincoln Cemetery and a life-sized statue adjacent to the Montgomery City Hall. He was inducted in the Grand Ole Opry in 1949, the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1961, the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in 1985, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. The Broadway play “Hank Williams: Lost Highway” was a tribute to him as was the 2006 movie, “Crazy.” He is pictured on the 29 cent United States commemorative postage stamp in the Legends of American Music series, which were issued on September 25, 1993.

Bio by: Donald Greyfield


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 1109
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Hank Williams, Sr (17 Sep 1923–1 Jan 1953), Find A Grave Memorial no. 1109, citing Oakwood Annex Cemetery, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .