There’s nothing like watching a 14-year-old Hank Willliams Jr. singing about cheating on the biggest stage in country music. In 1963, the country icon took the stage at Grand Ole Opry to sing his father’s song “Your Cheatin’ Heart.” Hank Williams Sr. passed away ten years prior to the performance.
Hank Williams’ Grand Ole Opry Performance
The teenager was introduced as the son of the late Williams in the clip by Ed Sullivan. He then proceeds to nail the performance as if his father was onstage. In fact, his performance of this song would later be used in a biopic about Hank Williams Sr.
In many ways, Hank Jr. was a tribute to his father for years to come. A lot of his fame came from reimaging and performing his father’s songs for loving audiences.
Eventually, however, he began to pave his own way in country music. He released hits like “A Country Boy Can Survive,” “Family Tradition,” “All My Rowdy Friends,” “Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound,” and “Just Call Me Hank.”
Stepping Away from His Father’s Shadow
Hank Wiliams Jr. is his own artist. A lot of this came to be after a near-fatal fall that happened in 1975, about eight years after his Grand Ole Opry performance.
According to Taste of Country, the country star was climbing on Ajax Peak in Beaverhead County, Montana. The snow collapsed under him and he plummeted down 440 feet. He fractured his skull and had multiple surgeries for years.
He was expected to die but made a miraculous recovery. With Johnny Cash and his godmother June Carter Cash at his bedside, he was granted some good luck.
Hank Jr. told People that his very new girlfriend and future ex-wife was also right at his side at the time.
“Twenty-four hours after admitting we loved each other, I became a monster on a mountainside with most of my face gone,” Williams Jr. said.
Two years after the incident he recorded “Hank Williams Jr. and Friends.” This introduced fans to a new look and sound for the country artist. He then dominated the industry for another decade.