Hiram “Hank” Williams Happy Birthday

(September 17, 1923 – January 1, 1953)

Hank1One of the biggest influences in Country & Pop music 20th century, 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).

Hank7Born in Mount Olive, Butler County, Alabama, Williams relocated to Georgiana with his family, 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.

Hank15Williams would later relocate 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 dropped out of school to devote his time to his career.

Hank8WSFA 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. Just like Elvis Presley moving from Sun records, an independent label to R.C.A. Victor

Hank11In 1947 he released “Move It on Over”, which became a hit, and also joined the Louisiana Hayride radio program.

Hank14Years of back pain, alcoholism and prescription drug abuse severely compromised his health. In 1952, he divorced Sheppard and was dismissed by the Grand Ole Opry because of his unreliability and alcohol abuse.

Hank9His biggest hit, “Lovesick Blues” was one of a few recordings NOT written by him. Here’s the 45 R.P.M. version.

Hank10Also the 78 R.P.M. version.

Hank12“My Bucket’s Got a Hole in It” is another song widely attributed to Clarence Williams, who obtained a copyright in 1933. The song became popular performed by Hank Williams for MGM and reached #4 on the country chart in 1949. It was recorded and a Million Seller by Ricky Nelson in 1958.

Hank4On the evening between December 31, 1952 and early morning January 1, 1953, he died suddenly while traveling to a concert in Canton, Ohio at the age of 29. Despite his short life, Williams is one of the most celebrated and influential musicians of the 20th century, especially in regard to country music Below is the 10 inch 33 1/3 R.P.M. L.P. released just week’s after his death.

Hank5A few years later a 12 inch 33 1/3 L.P. was released with the same cover but note the additional songs as there is additional room on the larger disc.

Hank13The tradition continues as Hank’s son, Randall “Hank” Williams, (i.e. Hank Jr.) and grandson Shelton Hank Williams (i.e. Hank III) still record and performs to this day. Not just Hank Sr. songs but their own as well.

Hank16Williams was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame (1961), the Songwriters Hall of Fame (1970), and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1987).