Born 17th September 19 1923
His first songs were made and released 60 years ago in 1946 after he moved to Nashville and impressed the legendary Fred Rose who took the 23 year old Hank under his wing, acting as his manager, record producer and co-writer. Williams soon became a regular on the prestigious radio show “The Louisiana Hayride” and then later at the classic country venue the Grand Ole Opry; on his first appearance he performed his first hit “Lovesick Blues” leading to an unprecedented six encores.Hit after hit came from his pen – “I’m so Lonesome I could Cry”, “Long Gone Lonesome Blues”, “Moanin’ the Blues”, “Why don’t you Love Me?”, “Cold Cold Heart”, “Your Cheatin’ Heart” “Hey Good Lookin'” and “Jambalaya” being just a very few of the classic numbers that in later years became hits for artists like Tony Bennett, Jo Stafford, Joni James and the Carpenters.
Hank Williams’s life was a troubled one – spina bifida made worse through a riding accident caused him constant pain and he drank to excess and took drugs, mostly painkillers; but on top of that, he was one of the music business’s first rowdies – he played with guns, destroyed hotel rooms and generally acted out a life style the rock stars of the 60s thought they had invented.
He was fired from the Grand Ole Opry and the 50s saw his career decline as musicians and booking agents increasingly saw him as a problem. He battled with his mother and wife Audrey, whom he divorced and then later with second wife Billie Jean Jones; his early death came, ironically, in the back of a car after the plane hired to take him to a gig had been cancelled because of a blizzard – ironic because the gig was to feature Hawkshaw Hawkins, who later died in a plane crash with Cowboy Copas and Patsy Cline, a crash caused by…. a blizzard.
Since that tragic death, Hank Williams’s star has risen to the point where country stars of every stripe acknowledge him as the founding father – many have name-checked him in songs, such as Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris, Kris Kristofferson, Tim Hardin and Moe Bandy “
6Music launched 13 years ago to the day, these days it’s the only broadcast radio station I listen to – here’s my recent BBC Music Playlister.