On This Day: Charley Pride’s Rendition of ‘Honky Tonk Blues’ by Hank Williams Hits No. 1 in 1980

by Jim Casey
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Charley Pride scored his 23rd No. 1 single on April 12, 1980, with his cover of Hank Williams’ “Honky Tonk Blues.”

With more than 50 Top 10 singles—including 29 No. 1 hits—during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, Charley Pride was a musical force on the charts. Charley continued his domination on the charts with the release of his 1980 album, There’s a Little Bit of Hank in Me, a 12-song collection of Hank Williams’ cover songs.

Honky-Tonkin’ With Hank

Hank Williams helped usher in the honky-tonk style of country music that became popular in dance halls in the 1950s and 1960s. Along with artists like Hank Thompson (“The Wild Side of Life”) and Webb Pierce (“There Stands the Glass”), Hank’s tunes became fan-favorites at beer joints with their strong, rhythmic beats and slice-of-life topics.

Hank had a string of hits to his credit—including “Long Gone Lonesome Blues,” “Moanin’ the Blues,” “Cold, Cold Heart,” and more—when he released “Honky Tonk Blues” in 1952. The Hank-penned tune, about a farm boy who escapes to the glitz of big-city life only to become disillusioned, reached No. 2 on the country chart later that year. The song was one of Hank’s final releases before his death in January 1953.

A Little Bit of Charley Pride

In January 1980, Charley Pride released his new studio album, There’s a Little Bit of Hank in Me. The 12-song offering featured songs made popular by Hank Williams. The No. 1 album included “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” “Low Down Blues,” “A Mansion on the Hill,” and more.

The album was buoyed by its lead single, “Honky Tonk Blues,” which topped the country chart on April 12, 1980. Charley followed up the chart-topper by reaching No. 1 with the album’s second single, “You Win Again,” in July 1980. Of course, years before in 1969, Charley scored a Top 5 hits with Hank Williams’ “Kaw-Liga.”

Needless to say, Charley, who was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000, and passed away in 2020 at age 86, was a “little bit” influenced by the great Hank Williams.

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