Happy birthday Hank Williams!
Hank Williams (September 17, 1923—January 1, 1953) was an American country music singer, guitarist, and songwriter. Some of his best known songs include "Lovesick Blues," "Your Cheatin' Heart," "Hey, Good Lookin'," and "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry."
Hank Williams was born Mount Olive, Alabama to Elonzo Huble "Lon" Williams and Jessie Lillybelle "Lillie" Skipper. His father was not present much in his child, first gone for work as a logger and later absent because his health necessitated that he be hospitalized. Williams' mother eventually moved her family to Greenville and then Montgomery, Alabama. Williams suffered from spina bifida, a condition that causes lifelong pain emanating from the spine.
He picked up a guitar by the age of eight, and soon learned to play folk, country, and the blues. He attributes much of his formation to his chance meeting with blues musician Rufus Payne, who gave Williams lessons in exchange for meals.
In 1937, he participated in a talent show at the Empire Theater. He also hung out outside the WSFA radio studios after school and on weekends. Once the producers finally invited him in to perform, he was so well received by listeners that he was given a twice-weekly 15-minute spot. He used his $15/week salary to start his band, Hank Williams and the Drifting Cowboys.
The band toured the South, with Williams' mother, Lillie, working as band manager. Eventually caught the attention of Nashville music executives.
Unfortunately, Williams took up drinking alcohol while touring, and this came to have a great effect on his success, as he was considered unreliable.
In 1943, he met Audrey Mae Sheppard. The two married and despite having little experience in music, Sheppard began to play bass in the band.
In 1946, Williams met music publisher Fred Rose, leading to a contract with MGM. Within a year, he had his first hit: "Move It On Over." In 1949, his next hit, "Lovesick Blues," catapulted him to stardom. He went on to produce "Cold, Cold Heart," "Your Cheatin' Heart," "Hey Good Lookin'," "Lost Highway," and "I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive."
In 1949, Williams made his debut at the Grand Ole Opry. He continued to perform there until 1952, when he was banned for drunkenness.
By this point, William's abuse of alcohol had expanded to include morphine, and his health quickly began to deteriorate.
Williams died on New Years Day, 1953, while on the road to West Virginia. It wasn't until his driver noticed he hadn't heard from Williams for two hours that he pulled over and Williams' death was discovered.
- Birthday Date: Wednesday, 17 September 2014