Growing up in West Texas….our Bone Daddy, the original Sportsphile…..was weened on country music….and especially Hank Williams, Sr. songs during the 1950’s and 1960’s….and although Hank was on this earth a mere 30 years…..he wrote a lifetime of songs (some 200+ that were recorded) that established him as one of America’s most prolific and recorded musical artists.
Williams is widely recognized as “The King of Country Music”….which is a title he shares with fellow artists Roy Acuff and George Strait…..as Alabama governor Gordon Persons officially proclaimed September 21 “Hank Williams Day”….and on the first celebration of this day in 1954 was 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”.
Hank Williams had eleven # 1 country hits in his short 13 year recording career including “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 and “Take These Chains from My Heart”….as well as many other top ten hits.
On February 8, 1960, Williams’ star was placed at 6400 Hollywood Boulevard on the Hollywood Walk of Fame….then he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1961….and into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in 1985….and when Downbeat magazine took a poll the year after Williams’ 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 Tubb.
In 1977, a national organization of CB truck drivers voted “Your Cheatin’ Heart” as their favorite record of all time….and in 1987, he was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame under the category Early Influence….plus in 2003, he was ranked # 2 in CMT’s 40 Greatest Men of Country Music just behind only Johnny Cash. His son, Hank Jr., was ranked on the same list.
In 2004 Rolling Stone magazine ranked him # 74 on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. Many artists of the 1950’s and 1960’s recorded his songs including Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Tammy Wynette, David Houston, Jerry Lee Lewis, Merle Haggard, Gene Vincent, Carl Perkins, Ricky Nelson, Jack Scott and Conway Twitty.
In 2011 Williams’ 1949 MGM # 1 hit, “Lovesick Blues”, was inducted into the Recording Academy Grammy Hall of Fame…..and the same year Hank Williams: The Complete Mother’s Best Recordings … Plus! was honored with a Grammy nomination for Best Historical Album….and In 1999, Williams was inducted into the Native American Music Hall of Fame. 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”.
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 musicians.
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….as the album was named The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams….and was released on October 4, 2011.
Material recorded by Williams which was originally intended for radio broadcasts to be played when he was on tour….or for its distribution to radio stations nationwide resurfaced throughout time. In 1993, a double-disc set of recordings of Williams for the Health & Happiness Show was released….and broadcast in 1949….as the shows were recorded for the promotion of Hadacol….when 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….along with 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 Dimes. In May 2014, further radio recordings by Williams were released….as The Garden Spot Programs, 1950….which was a series of publicity segments for plant nursery Naughton Farms originally aired in 1950….and the recordings were found by collector George Gimarc at radio station KSIB in Creston, Iowa…..when Gimarc contacted Williams’ daughter Jett, and Colin Escott, writer of a biography book on Williams….and the material was restored and remastered by Michael Graves and released by Omnivore Recordings.
In June 2016 British actor Tom Hiddleston portrayed Williams in the biopic I Saw the Light….which was based on Colin Escott’s 1994 book Hank Williams: The Biography….as Marc Abraham directed the film. Filming took place in October through December 2014 and the film was released in 2016.
This tribute to Hank Williams: The Man and His Music is hosted by his son, Hank Jr….and features many of his most beloved songs….and such country greats as Kris Kristofferson, Brenda Lee, Little Jimmie Dickens, Minnie Pearl, Roy Acuff, Waylon Jennings and Hank Williams, Jr….along with exerts from The Hank Williams Story….a made for TV movie back in the 1980/s….as this video is nothing less than “pure gold” in our treasure chest of vintage memories.