Edit

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (2) | Trivia (32) | Personal Quotes (2)

Overview (5)

Date of Birth 17 September 1923Georgiana, Alabama, USA
Date of Death 1 January 1953Oak Hill, West Virginia, USA  (drug/alcohol-related heart attack)
Birth NameHiram King Williams
Nicknames The Hillbilly Shakespeare
Harm
Height 6' (1.83 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Hank Williams was born in September 1923 in a small Alabama farming community about 70 miles south of Montgomery. His father was a railroad engineer who was also a victim of shell shock after a year of fighting in France in 1918 during World War I and spent many years in veterans hospitals. Hank's mother, Lillian Skipper Williams, played the organ in their local church and taught him gospel songs when he was six. When Hank turned 10 he taught himself to play the guitar, mostly by watching other guitarists.

In his teens Hank learned to play and sing country songs that he heard on the family radio, and picked up some blues chords from a black friend who was a street musician named Tee-Tot (Rufe Payne). At the age of 14 Hank put together his own band, playing at hoedowns and other get-together, where he won a local talent contest competition with his composition "WPA Blues." At 17, Hank put together a group called 'Hank Williams' Original Drifting Cowboys' and they successfully auditioned for the manager of WSFS Radio in Montgomery, where they played regularly on the air. Hank met his first wife Audrey Williams during a traveling medicine show and they were married in December 1944 at an Alabama gas station. Audrey was a strong-willed woman who became Hank's booking agent, road manager and promoter. It was she who encouraged the stage-frightened Hank to perform on stage and helped book gigs outside of Alabama.

In 1946 Hank and Audrey traveled to Nashville to secure a music publishing contract with producer Fred Rose, head of the Acuff-Rose publishing firm, who asked Hank to write a song on the spot. The song, "Mansion on the Hill", landed Hank a publishing contract with Acuff-Rose. During the late 1940s Hank--a tall, thin man who alway wore a short-brimmed, white cowboy hat--had his peak years when MGM Records signed him for a recording contract and he became a regular on "Louisiana Hayride", a KWKH radio show in Shreveport, Louisiana. In 1949, after the birth of Hank and Audrey's son Hank Williams Jr., Hank was asked to join the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, where he made his stage debut on June 11, 1949.

From 1949 to 1950, Hank became country music's top artist, with hits like "Lovesick Blues," "My Bucket's Got a Hole in It," "Moanin' the Blues" and "Why Don't You Love Me." His 1951 hits included "Hey, Good Lookin'" "Cold, Cold Heart" and "I Can't Help It (If I'm Still in Love with You)." Hits of 1952 were "Honky Tonk Blues," "Jambalaya," and "I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive."

However, Hank's unprecedented success came with a price. A heavy drinker since his late teens, Hank proved to be an undependable performer when be began showing up for concerts drunk, and sometimes didn't show up at all. When Audrey divorced him in 1951 due to their constant fights over his drinking, his band began to become disillusioned with him, too, and the Grand Ole Opry suspended him from appearing at live shows. In October 1952 Hank married his second wife, 19-year-old Billie Jean Jones, who was no more successful than Audrey in protecting Hank from himself. Also, the Drifting Cowboys departed that same month due to Hank's violent mood swings and unpredictability. He was still in demand for live performances, though.

On the early morning hours on New Year's Day 1953, while traveling through West Virginia on the way to a show in Canton, Ohio, Hank Williams died in his sleep in the back seat of his Cadillac limousine at the age of 29.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Matt Patay

Spouse (2)

Billie Jean Jones (18 October 1952 - 1 January 1953) (his death)
Audrey Williams (15 December 1944 - 26 May 1952) (divorced) (1 child)

Trivia (32)

Interred at Oakwood Annex, Montgomery, Alabama.
Father of Hank Williams Jr.. There is a Hank Williams festival each June in Georgiana, Alabama.
A life-size statue of him holding a guitar stands in downtown Montgomery, Alabama, across the street from City Hall, the site of many of his concerts, and the site of his funeral.
Ranked Number 1 on Life Magazine's list of "The 100 Most Important People in Country Music" (1994).
National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) inducted his song "Hey, Good Lookin'" into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
Country Music Hall of Fame inducted him into the Walkway of Stars (1969).
Was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame (1987).
Was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame (1961).
Was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry (1949).
More than 35 years after his death, his son, Hank Jr., helped produce a father and son "duet" using one of the elder Hank's obscure acetate recordings. Hank Jr. dubbed in his father's vocals under a new, neo-classic country music bed, sang a verse of his own, and released the single. The song: "There's a Tear in My Beer," which went to No. 7 on Billboard magazine's country singles chart in 1989.
Even after his 1953 death, Hank Sr. continued to score major country hits. That year, his hit "Kaw-Liga" spent 13 weeks at No. 1 atop the Billboard magazine country charts that year; it was the No. 1 country song of the year 1953.
Pictured on one of four 29¢ US commemorative postage stamps in the Legends of American Music series, featuring Country & Western music. This set of stamps also honored Patsy Cline, Bob Wills, and The Carter Family. Issued 25 September 1993 in sheet and booklet formats.
Pictured on a 29¢ US commemorative postage stamp in the Legends of American Music series, issued 9 June 1993.
Grandfather of Hank Williams III
Father of country singer Jett Williams.
Step-father of Lycretia Williams
Married Billie Jean Jones in Minden, Louisiana, then twice more the next day to paying audiences at New Orleans Municipal Auditorium. 14,000 people bought tickets. After Hank's death, Billie Jean received a lump sum from Audrey Williams to stop performing as "Mrs. Hank Williams."
He was voted the 74th Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Artist of all time by Rolling Stone.
Recorded with legendary Nashville guitarist Hank Garland.
Was the 3rd inductee in the Native American Music Hall of Fame in 1999 because of his Muskogee Creek and Tsalagi (Cherokee) ancestry. Jimi Hendrix and Buddy Red Bow were numbers 1 and 2 respectively.
At his untimely funeral, C&W greats Roy Acuff, Red Foley and Ernest Tubb respectively sang, "I Saw the Light," "Peace in the Valley" and "Beyond the Sunset"
Half-brother of Leila Griffin.
Son of Alonzo "Lon" Williams and Lillie Williams.
Cousin of Walt McNeil.
Cousin of Lewis Fitzgerald.
Made his final public appearance at the "Skyline Club" in Austin, Texas, on December 19, 1952.
According to Jimmy Grabowske, the steel guitar player for the House Band at the Skyline Club in Austin, Hank was only able to perform for about half an hour at his last show at the Skyline on December 19, 1952. Jimmy says Hank started off well, but after about thirty minutes it was obvious something was wrong, and Hank started shaking. He was unable to continue, so Jody Meredith, the House Band leader, finished the show. Hank died thirteen days later on January 1, 1953.
In the video for the 1989 duet with Hank Jr. "Tear In My Beer", Hank is shown singing the song from an old clip of a television appearance. Computer graphics are used to show Hank's mouth appearing to sing the words to "Tear In My Beer". In fact, the song Hank is actually singing is "Hey, Good Lookin'".
Godmother of his son Hank Williams Jr. was June Carter Cash
Grandfather of Holly Williams.
Inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970.
He was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Recording at 6400 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California.

Personal Quotes (2)

I was a pretty good imitator of Roy Acuff, but then I found out they already had a Roy Acuff, so I started singin' like myself.
You got to have smelt a lot of mule manure before you can sing like a hillbilly.

See also

Other Works | Publicity Listings | Official Sites | Contact Info

Contribute to This Page