HomeNewsCountry Throwback: Watch Hank Williams Jr. Perform Onboard the U.S.S. Constellation in 1984

Country Throwback: Watch Hank Williams Jr. Perform Onboard the U.S.S. Constellation in 1984

by Suzanne Halliburton
(Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)

Hank Williams Jr marched on stage wearing his version of a military uniform – tan cowboy hat, dark blue suit, with his pants tucked into a pair of white boots.

He didn’t look like who he was trying to entertain — sailors aboard the USS Constellation. But that was OK with everybody. It is “Bocephus” after all.

As the Goodyear Blimp floated overhead, Williams performed a medley of his on the main deck of the vaunted supercarrier. The concert happened on June 25, 1984.

He told the sailors and others who packed the ship what he was about to do.

“Hello, Navy. Welcome to the world’s largest floating party,” he said. “I’m honored to be aboard the pride of the United States Navy, America’s Flagship, the USS Constellation.

Then he asked, “Are there any rowdy sailors out there?”

“We’re going to honky tonk til it hurts.”

So, in the Williams world, the venue never much matters, whether it’s a majestic Naval carrier tasked with protecting Americans or a smoky arena down the street. Hank Jr never disappoints.

And there’s a discussion that says that back in the 1980s, Williams was country music’s quintessential entertainer.

Hank Williams Jr. Played a Medley of Favorites

Williams played a sampling of his top hits for the sailors. He even added a dash of his Dad’s good stuff, yodeling through some “Home Sick Blues.” Williams quickly shed his military look and went for straight Hank Jr comfort, a hat, vest and some well-worn jeans. His hat featured the USS Constellation logo.

He played the guitar standing up to sing. He sat down and sang. And, he took a seat at the piano for “Gonna Go Hunting Tonight.” William pounded the lower chords as he belted out the words. Then once he got to the chorus, he looked like Jerry Lee Lewis as his fingers flew back and forth over all 88 keys.

His setlist featured “Honky Tonkin’,” “Dixie On My Mind,” “Women I’ve Never Had,” “Gonna Go Huntin’ Tonight,” “The Ride” and “Man Of Steel.”

The Constellation was quite the concert venue. She was commissioned by the Navy in 1961. During the 1960s, the Navy added three “Kitty Hawk” class supercarriers, including the one nicknames by sailors as “Connie.”

Three years before Williams’ concert, President Ronald Reagan visited the carrier, proclaiming it “America’s Flagship.” Reagan also gave the crew a presidential flag and told them “Let friend and foe alike know that America has the muscle to back up its words, and ships like this and men like you are that muscle.”

So, it was quite the spot for a Williams’ concert.

Now, for some Friday, way back listening, check out the video.