Nov. 3rd marks 59 years since country pioneer and legend Hank Williams was one of the first to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
In an anniversary that may be hard to believe for veteran country fans, it has now been almost sixty years to the day that pioneering country musician Hank Williams was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
An icon and staple of classic country, Williams helped build the music genre that would come to define America as a country. As a result, he was among the very first to be admitted official icon-status within the industry’s own Hall of Fame.
Unfortunately, Hank Williams did not live to see his induction. He, along with country staple publishers Fred Rose and Jimmie Rodgers, was inducted posthumously in 1962.
Williams, however, left the world far too soon in 1953. Through over 30 highly-successful singles, he was – and still is – heavily to credit for catapulting country music to the top of American culture. Fittingly, his final single is I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive. It hit No. 1 on the charts after his passing.
In addition to his induction alongside Williams, Fred Rose became instrumental in William’s career. Jimmie Rodgers is another icon and pioneer of the genre. Known as “The Singing Brakeman and America’s Blue Yodeler”, his biggest credit is as the Father of Country Music. As a result – Williams’ induction couldn’t have come with better company. All three individuals are also members of the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Hank Williams’ Troubled Life & Death
According to author Colin Escott’s biography of Hank Williams, the legendary singer/songwriter struggled with alcoholism and addiction his entire life. Ultimately, it would claim him right before a New Year’s Day gig in 1953.
The biography, titled Hank Williams: The Biography, details Williams’ struggles in great detail. Among his vices were cocaine, morphine, chloral hydratre, and heroin. All of this, too, was in addition to the heavy consumption of alcohol.
While riding in the back seat of his Cadillac, Hank Williams died of a cocktail of heart symptoms related to his drug use. Minutes before he was to perform at the biggest New Year’s Day celebration of 1953, Williams doubled over and died immediately. The Cadillac is now “The Death Car”, and is the centerpiece of the Hank Williams Museum in Montgomery, Alabama – his hometown.
Escott clarifies in his biography that Williams’ autopsy cites a heart attack as his cause of death. In reality, the cause of death was “heart failure by the combination of alcohol, morphine and chloral hydrate.”
Hank’s Real Name? Hiram King Williams
Regardless of his struggles, Williams still managed to change the music of America forever. To celebrate his successes, we’ve compiled a list of little-known Hank Williams facts for fans of the timeless legend.
For starters, Williams was born in Mount Olive, Alabama in 1923. He grew up in the state during the crippling Great Depression. Eventually, his family moved to Montgomery, where he was raised.
Upon his birth, Williams was named Hiram King Williams. When pursuing a singing career, Williams took on the moniker of ‘Hank’ to sound as American as possible.
One of his most famous performances was, of course, at Nashville’s original Grand Ole Opry. Within, in 1949, the audience couldn’t get enough of Williams “Your Cheatin’ Heart and Lovesick Blues classics. So much so, in fact, that the singer performed a record six encores.
Interestingly, alongside being of the first-class of Country Hall of Fame inductees, Williams is also a Pulitzer Prize winner. This award, too, however, was also won posthumously. Williams was given the award in 2010 for Hey Good Lookin’, one of the most well-known sets of lyrics in American history.
Williams Recorded over 225 Songs
And if all this wasn’t enough to convince you of his pioneer-status, the man recorded 225 country songs. In five years. He wrote over 120 of these himself. Even if you’re not a huge Hank fan, you know at least a dozen of his songs immediately without even knowing it. Among his credits are I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry, I Saw The Light, Hey Good Lookin, Your Cheatin’ Heart, and Move it On Over.
Finally, his son, Hank Williams Jr., continues his fathers legacy even today with a wildly successful country music career.
All in all, the legend of Hank Williams will live on forever. A happy 59th anniversary to this icon on his Country Music Hall of Fame induction from all of us here at Outsider.com.
[H/T The Boot]