On This Day: Hank Williams Performs ‘Hey Good Lookin’’ on TV Special in 1952

by Emily Morgan

On this day, nearly 70 years ago, the late great Hank Williams performed his classic hit, “Hey Good Lookin’,” on a popular television show.

On Mar. 26, 1952, Williams appeared on “The Kate Smith Evening Hour TV show” and performed the chart-topping hit, according to This Day in Country Music. He later joined in with the rest of the show’s cast to rendition his song, “I Saw The Light.”

Hank Williams’ appearance on the show remains one of the few existing film clips of Williams performing live. Before taking the stage, Roy Acuff and a young June Carter have some friendly banter before introducing Williams.

Once on stage, the audience members can see Williams wearing his famous stark-white cowboy suit adorned in musical notes. The rare, invaluable clip exemplifies Williams’ talent as a singer as well as a country music performer. Later, the show’s kinescope would appear again in Hank Williams Jr.’s video “There’s A Tear In My Beer” 37 years later.

Hank Williams Lays Down Four Hit Songs in One Session

Hank Williams recorded his breakout single, “Hey, Good Lookin’,” on Mar. 16, 1951, at Castle Studios in Nashville. While recording, Williams would record “My Heart Would Know,” as well as “I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still in Love with You)” and “Howlin’ at the Moon,” released on Apr. 27, 1951.

“Hey, Good Lookin'” would follow on Jun. 22 of the same year. Little did he know at the time, the song would go on to define Williams’ career in country music.

Initially, the song was intended for someone else. Williams told his longtime friend and fellow musician Jimmy Dickens, that Dickens needed a hit record. As a result, Williams penned Dickens “Hey Good Lookin'” in only 20 minutes while on a plane with him. A week later, Williams decided to record it himself. According to Williams, he jokingly told Dickens, “That song’s too good for you!”

Williams was backed on the session by members of his Drifting Cowboys band, including Jerry Rivers, Don Helms, Sammy Pruett, Jack Shook, Ernie Newton, and Owen Bradley or producer Fred Rose on piano.

In addition, the Hank Willaims’ version has been covered by a variety of artists, including Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, George Jones, Waylon Jennings, and Jimmy Buffet. Later, in 2001, nearly fifty years after his passing, Willams’ version was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. In 2003, CMT voted the song as No.19 on “CMT’s 100 Greatest Songs of Country Music.”

In the five years that spanned his country music career, Hank Williams had a whopping 11 No. 1 hits on the Billboard country chart. Despite his tragic demise, fans will remember Williams not for his passing but for the irreplaceable talent he left on the country music genre.