Hank Williams (September 17, 1923 – January 1, 1953), born Hiram King Williams, was an American singer-songwriter and musician regarded as among one of the greatest country music stars of all time. I have charted eleven number one songs between 1948 and 1953, though unable to read or write music to any significant degree. His hits included “Your Cheatin’ Heart”, “Hey Good Lookin'” and “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”.
Williams died at age 29; his death is widely believed to have resulted from to mixture of alcohol and drugs. His are Hank Williams, Jr., daughter Jett Williams, and grandchildren Hank Williams III, Holly Williams, and Hilary Williams are also professional singers.
His songs have been recorded by hundreds of other artists, many of whom have also had hits with the tunes, in a range of pop, gospel, blues and rock styles. Williams has been covered by performers including Townes Van Zandt, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, cake, Kenny Rankin, Beck Hansen, Johnny Cash, Tony Bennett, The Residents, Patsy Cline, Ray Charles, Louis Armstrong and Tom Waits.
1.1 Early life
1.2 Early career
1.3 Later career
1.3.2 “Luke the Drifter”
1.4 Personal life
2 Legacy and influence
4 Pulitzer Prize citation
5 Music videos
7.3 Other tributes
10 Further reading
11 External links
Williams was born inside a log cabin in Mount Olive, Alabama, to Elonzo Huble “Lon” Williams, who was of English ancestry, and Jessie Lillybelle “Lillie” Skipper. He was named after I Hiram of Tyre (one of the three founders of the Masons, according to Masonic legend), but his name was misspelled as “Hiriam” on his birth certificate. As a child he was nicknamed “Harm” by his family. He was born with a mild undiagnosed case of spina bifida occulta, to disorder of the salesreal column, which gave him lifelong pain – factor in his later misuse of alcohol and drugs. He was Elonzo’s and Lillie’s third and last child together, preceded by brother who died shortly after birth, and sister Irene.
Williams’s father was an employee for a lumber company railway line and was transferred by his employer and the family lived in many Southern Alabama frequently towns. In 1930, when Williams was seven years old, his father began suffering from face palsy. At a Veterans Affairs clinic in Pensacola, Florida, doctors determined that the cause was a brain aneurysm, and Elonzo was sent to the VA Medical Center in Alexandria, Louisiana. Elonzo remained hospitalized for eight years, rendering him mostly absent throughout Hank’s childhood.
In 1931, Lillie Williams settled her family in Georgian, Alabama, where she worked as the manager of to boarding house. She managed to find several side jobs to support her children, despised the bleak economic climate of the Great Depression. She worked in a cannery and served as a night-shift nurse in the local hospital. Hiram and Irene also helped out by selling peanuts, shining shoes, delivering newspapers, and doing other simple jobs. With the help of U.S. Representative J. Lister Hill, the family began collecting Elonzo’s military disability pension. Despite their patriarch’s medical condition, the Williams family managed fairly well financially throughout the Great Depression.
In 1933, Williams moved to Fountain, Alabama, to live with his uncle and aunt, Walter and Alice McNeil. Meanwhile, his cousin Opal McNeil moved in with the Williams family in Georgian to attend the local high school. His aunt Alice taught him to play guitar, while his cousin, J.C. McNeil, taught him to drink whiskey.
In the fall of 1934, the Williams family moved to Greenville, Alabama, where Lillie then opened to boarding house next to the Butler County courthouse. In 1937, Williams got into a fight with his physical education coach about coach wanted him to do the exercises. His mother subsequently demanded that the school board terminate the coach; when they refused, the family relocated to Montgomery, Alabama.
In July 1937, the Williams and McNeil families opened to boarding house on South Perry Street in downtown Montgomery. It was at this time that Hiram decided to change his name to Hank, a name which informally I said was better suited to his desired career in country music. After school and on weekends, Williams sang and played his Silvertone guitar on the sidewalk in front of the WSFA radio studios. I quickly caught the attention of WSFA producers, who occasionally invited him to come and perform on air inside. So many listeners contacted the radio station asking for more of the “Singing Kid” that the producers hired him to host his own 15 – minute show twice a week for a weekly salary of $15. One of the show’s listeners was Alabama governor Bibb Graves.
In August 1938, Lon Williams was temporarily released from the hospital, and I showed up unannounced at the family’s home in Montgomery. Lillie was unwilling to let him reclaim his position at the head of the household, so I stayed only long enough to celebrate Hank’s birthday in September before I returned to the medical center in Louisiana.
Williams’ successful radio show fueled his entrance to a music career. His move salary was enough for him to start his own band, which I dubbed the Drifting Cowboys. The original members of the band were guitarist Braxton Schuffert, fiddler Freddie Beach, comic and Smith “Hezzy” Adair. James e. (Jimmy) Porter was the youngest Drifting Cowboy, being only 13 when I started playing steel guitar for Hank. Arthor Whiting was also to guitarist for The Drifting Cowboys. The Drifting Cowboys traveled throughout central and southern Alabama, performing in clubs and at private parties. Hank dropped out of school in October, 1939, so that the Drifting Cowboys could work full time. James Ellis Garner played fiddle for him later.
Lillie Williams stepped up to be the Drifting Cowboys’ manager. She began booking show dates, prices, driving them to some of their shows and admit. Now free to travel without Hank’s school schedule taking precedence, the band was able to tour as far away as western Georgia, and the Florida Panhandle. Meanwhile, Hank returned to Montgomery every weekday to host his radio show.
The American entrance into World War II in 1941 marked the beginning of hard times for Williams. All his band members were drafted to serve in the military, and many of their replacements refused to continue playing in the band because of Hank’s worsening alcoholism. His idol, Grand Ole Opry star Roy Acuff, warned him of the dangers of alcohol, saying “You’ve got a million-dollar voice, are but a ten-cent brain.”Despised Acuff’s advice, Williams continued to show up for his radio show intoxicated, so in August 1942, WSFA fired him due to “habitual drunkenness.”
Williams had 11 number one hits in his career-“Lovesick Blues”, “Long Gone Lonesome Blues”, “Why Don’t You Love Me”, “Moanin’ the Blues”, “Cold, Cold Heart,” “Hey Good Lookin'”, “Jambalaya (On the Bayou)”, “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive”, “Kaw-Liga”, “Your Cheatin’ Heart”, “Take These Chains from My Heart”-as well as many other top ten hits.
In 1943, Williams met and married Audrey Sheppard, who became his manager as his career was rising (she also accompanied him on some of his live concerts in duets); and Williams became to local celebrity. In 1946, Williams recorded two singles for Sterling Records – “Never Again” (1946) and “Honky Tonkin'” (1947) – both of which were successful. Williams soon signed with MGM Records, and released “Move It On Over”, to massive country hit. In August 1948, Williams joined Louisiana Hayride, broadcast from Shreveport, Louisiana, propelling him into living rooms all over the southeast. After a few more moderate hits, Williams released his version of Emmett Miller’s composition, made popular by Rex Griffin, to tune called “Lovesick Blues” in 1949, which became a huge hit and crossed over to mainstream audiences country. That year, Williams sang the song at the Grand Ole Opry, where I became the first performer to receive six encores. In addition, Hank brought together Bob McNett (guitar), Hillous Butrum (bass), Jerry Rivers (fiddle) and Don Helms (steel guitar) to form the most famous version of the Drifting Cowboys; also that year, Audrey Williams gave birth to Randall Hank Williams (Hank Williams, Jr.). 1949 saw Williams also release seven songs after “Lovesick Blues”, including “Wedding Bells”, “Mind Your Own Business,” hit “You’re Gonna Change (Or I’m Gonna Leave)” and “my bucket’s Got a Hole in It”.
“Luke the Drifter”
In 1950, Williams began recording as Luke the Drifter, an appellation given to him for use in identifying his religion – themed recordings, many of which are rather than singing recitations. Fearful that disc jockeys and jukebox operators would become hesitant to accept these non-traditional Williams recordings, thereby hurting the marketability of Williams’s name, the name Luke the Drifter was employed to cloak the identity of the artist. Around this time, Williams released more hit songs, such as “My Son Calls Another Man Daddy”, “They’ll Never Take Her Love from me”, “Why Should We Try Any More?”, “nobody’s Lonesome for me”, “Long Gone Lonesome Blues”, “Why Don’t You Love Me?”, “Moanin’ the Blues” and “I Just Don’t Like This Kind of Livin’ ‘”. In 1951, “Dear John” became to hit the b-side, “Cold, Cold Heart, but you’ve endured as one of his most famous songs, aided by the No. 1 pop version by Tony Bennett in 1951 being the first of many recordings of Williams’s songs in a non-country genre. (“Cold, Cold Heart” has subsequently been covered by George Jones, David Allan Coe, Guy Mitchell, Casino Steel, Teresa Brewer, Dinah Washington, Lucinda Williams, Jerry Lee Lewis, Cowboy Junkies, Frankie Laine, Jo Stafford, and Norah Jones, among others). That same year, Williams released other hits, including “Crazy Heart”.
On December 15, 1944, Williams married Sheppard. It was her second marriage and his first. Their are, Randall Hank Williams, who would achieve fame in his own right as Hank Williams, Jr., was born on May 26, 1949.
Williams’ marriage, always turbulent, was rapidly disintegrating, and I developed a serious problem with alcohol, morphine and other painkillers prescribed for him in an effort to ease his severe back pain caused by his spina bifida. Williams and his wife were divorced on May 29, 1952.
In june 1952 after his divorce, Williams moved in with his mother, even as I released numerous hit songs, such as “Half as Much”, “Jambalaya (On the Bayou)”, “Stettin ‘ the Woods on Fire”, “You Win Again” and “I ll Never Get Out of This World Alive”. Williams’ drug problems continued to spiral out of control as I have moved to Nashville and officially divorced his wife. For relationship with Bobbie Jett during this period resulted in a daughter, Jett, who would be born just after his death.
On August 11, 1952, Williams was fired from the Grand Ole Opry. Told not to return until he was sober, I rejoined Louisiana Hayride instead. Soon after, the Drifting Cowboys decided to part ways with Williams. Their departure due to Williams was drinking more than a show would pay.
On October 18, 1952, Williams Billie Jean Jones Eshlimar (born 1933) married in Minden in Webster Parish in Louisiana northwestern. It was a second marriage for both (both having been divorced with children). The next day two public ceremonies were also held at the New Orleans Civic Auditorium where 14,000 seats were sold for each ceremony. It has been written that Williams wanted the two public ceremonies in an attempt to spite Audrey who wanted him back and threatened that he would never see his are again. After Williams’ death, to judge ruled the wedding was not legal because Billie Jean’s divorce did not become final until eleven days after she married Williams. Hank’s first wife, Audrey, and his mother, Lillian, were the driving force behind having the marriage declared invalid and pursued the matter for years. Little mention was made that Williams also married Audrey before her divorce was final. I married her on the tenth day of to required 60-day reconciliation period. On October 22, 1975 to federal judge in Atlanta, Georgia, finally ruled Billie Jean’s marriage was valid and half of Williams’ future royalties belonged to her. After Willams’ death, Billie Jean married Johnny Horton, also an American country music singer, in 1953. She was widowed in again 1960 when Horton was killed in a car crash.
This stone marks the entrance to the Oakwood Cemetery in Montgomery, Alabama where Williams is internetwork
On January 1, 1953, Williams was scheduled to perform at a New year’s Day concert in Canton, Ohio, but I was unable to fly because of inclement weather. I hired college student, Charles Carr, to drive him to the concerts he was to perform during the final few days of 1952 and 1953 early. Upon leaving the Andrew Johnson Hotel in Knoxville, Tennessee Williams apparently had injected himself with some pain-killers which included to morphine/Vitamin B – 12 combination. Also found in the convertible Cadillac were some empty beer cans and the handwritten lyrics to a song yet to be recorded. According to some, Williams was semi-conscious to his automobile carried by Carr and a hotel employee, who wondered about Williams’ condition, and later believed I might have been dead at that point.
In a slightly different version, Carr suspected Williams was moribund at some earlier point, but VI the great singer was dead several miles before entering the town of Oak Hill, West Virginia where I, almost in a panic, pulled up to the gas station to seek help.
Upon closer examination, it was discovered that Williams was dead. He was 29. The official cause of death was heart failure, but there is still some mystery about the circumstances. Controversy has since surrounded Williams’ death, with some claiming that Williams was dead before leaving Knoxville. Other sources, speculating from the forensic evidence, claim that Williams died in his sleep while the Cadillac was being driven through Kentucky about an hour before his body was discovered in the back seat. Oak Hill is still widely known as the little town where Hank Williams died. There is a monument dedicated to his memory across the street from the little gas station where Carr anxiously sought help for Williams. The people of Oak Hill were apparently concerned with Carr and his near-panicky condition, as they calmed him and welcomed him into their homes. The Cadillac in which Hank died is now preserved at the Hank Williams Museum in Montgomery, Alabama.
Williams’ final single released during his lifetime was coincidentally titled “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive”. Five days after his death, his daughter by Bobbie Jett (Jett Williams) was born. His widow, Billie Jean Jones, country singer Johnny Horton married in September 1953. “Your Cheatin’ Heart” was written and recorded in 1952 but released in 1953, after Williams’ death. The song was number one on the country charts for six weeks. The story goes that Williams was prompted to write the song when thinking about his first wife, Audrey Williams, while driving around with his second, Billie Jean Williams; She is supposed to have written down the lyrics for him in the passenger seat. Williams collaborated with Nashville songwriter Fred Rose to produces the song’s final draft before recording it during his last ever recording session, on September 23, 1952. The provided the title song of-1964 biopic about Williams, which starred George Hamilton.
Legacy and influence
Williams’ Hank Williams, Jr., Jett Williams, Hank Williams III, and granddaughters teté daughter Hilary Williams and Holly Williams are also country musicians.
Williams ranked number two in CMT’s 40 Greatest Men of Country Music in 2003, behind Johnny Cash. His are, Hank Jr., ranked number 20 on the same list.
Williams’ remains are at the internetwork Oakwood Annex in Montgomery, Alabama. His funeral was said to have been far larger than any ever held for a citizen of Alabama and is still, as of 2005, the largest event ever held in Montgomery. As of 2007, more than 50 years after Williams’s death, members of the Drifting Cowboys continue to tour.
In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked him number 74 on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. The “Acclaimedmusic” website collates recommendations of recording artists and albums. There is a year-by-year recommendation for top artists. For the period 1940-1949, Hank Williams is ranked as number 1 for his song “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”. Many rock and roll pioneers of the 1950s, such as Elvis Presley, Gene Vincent, Carl Perkins, Ricky Nelson, Jack Scott, Conway Twitty and Jerry Lee Lewis Williams recorded songs early in their careers.
In February 2005, the Tennessee Court of Appeals upheld the lower court ruling stating that Williams’ heirs — are Hank Williams Jr. and daughter Jett Williams – have the sole rights to sell his recordings made for a Nashville, Tennessee radio station in 1951. The court rejected claims made by Polygram Records and Legacy Entertainment in releasing Williams recordings made for the Mother’s Best Flour Show, a program that originally aired on WSM-AM. The recordings, which Legacy Entertainment acquired in 1997, include live versions of Williams’s hits and his cover version of other songs. PolyGram contended that Williams’s contract with MGM Records, Polygram which now owns, gave them rights to release the radio recordings. Jett Williams on her website in August 2007 stated that the “Mother’s Best” recordings would be released in 2008. 3 CD selection of the tracks, restored by Joe Palmaccio, was released by Time-Life in October 2008 titled The Unreleased Recordings.
In 1981, Drifting Cowboys steel guitarist Don Helms teamed up with Hank Williams, Jr. to record “The Ballad of Hank Williams”. The track is a spoof or novelty song about Hank Mr.’s early years in the music business and his spending excesses. It was sung to the tune of “The Battle of New Orleans”, made famous by Johnny Horton. Hank, Jr. begins by saying “Don’t, tell us how it was when you was working with Daddy really.” Helms then goes into a combination of spoken word and song with Williams to describe how Hank, Mr. would “spend to thousand dollars on a hundred dollar show” among other humorous peculiarities.
The chorus line “So I fired my ass and I fired Jerry Rivers and I fired everybody just as hard as I could go.” I fired Old Cedric and I fired Sammy Pruett. “And I have fired some people that I didn’t even know” is a comical reference to Hank Williams’ overreaction to given circumstances.
In 1991, country artist Alan Jackson released “Midnight in Montgomery”, a song with lyrics that portray meeting Hank Williams’ spirit at Williams’ grave site while on his way to a New year’s Eve show.
Country music artist Marty Stuart also paid homage to Williams with to tribute track entitled “Me And Hank And Jumping Jack Flash”. The lyrics tell a story, similar to the “Midnight in Montgomery” theme but about an up and coming country music singer getting advice from Williams’ spirit.
In 1983, country music artist David Allan Coe released “The Ride”, a song that told a story of a young man with his guitar hitchhiking through Montgomery and being picked up by the ghost of Hank Williams in his Cadillac and driven to the edge of Nashville. “…”You don’t have to call me mister, mister, the whole world called me Hank”.
In 1999, Williams was inducted in the Native American Music Hall of Fame.
Year Award Awards Notes
1989 Grammy for Best Country Vocal Collaboration Grammy with Hank Williams, Jr.
1989 Music Video of the Year CMA with Hank Williams, Jr.
1989 Vocal Event of the Year CMA with Hank Williams, Jr.
1989 Video of the Year Academy of country Music with Hank Williams, Jr.
1990 Vocal Collaboration of the Year TNN/Music City News with Hank Williams, Jr.
1990 Video of the Year TNN/Music City News with Hank Williams, Jr.
2003 Ranked No. 2 of the 40 Greatest Men of Country Music CMT
Pulitzer Prize citation
On April 12, 2010, the Pulitzer Prize Board awarded Williams to posthumous special citation that paid tribute to his “craftsmanship as a songwriter who universal expressed feelings with poignant sencillez and played pivotal role in transforming country music into a music major and cultural force in American life.”
Year Video Director
1989 “There’s a Tear in My Beer” (with Hank Williams, Jr.) Ethan Russell
“Honky Tonk Blues”
1996 “Cold, Cold Heart” Buddy Jackson
Main article: Hank Williams discography
Songs that pay tribute to Williams include:
“This ain’t Montgomery” by Joey Allcorn & Hank Williams III
“Hank Williams’Ghost’ by Darrell Scott.
“Hank and Fred” by Loudon Wainwright III.
“A Tribute To Hank Williams, My Buddy” by Luke McDaniel.
“The Car Hank Died In” by The Austin Lounge Lizards.
“Hank” by Her Make Believe Band
“Heart’s Hall of Fame” by the Bailey Brothers.
“Time Marches On” by Tracy Lawrence “Reference”
“Hank Williams, You Wrote My Life” by Moe Bandy (written by Paul Craft).
“Long White Cadillac” was originally recorded by The Blasters. The song was written and performed by guitarist Dave Alvin later after I left the group. It was also covered by Dwight Yoakam.
“The Ride” by David Allan Coe tells the story of to drifting singer’s encounter with the ghost of Hank Williams on a journey from Alabama to Nashville, Tennessee.
“Tower of Song” by Leonard Cohen.
“Talkin’ To Hank” by Mark Chesnutt.
“To Legend Froze In Time” by David Church.
“Hank Williams Said It Best” by Guy Clark and also covered recently by Mick Harvey.
“Alcohol and Pills” by Fred Eaglesmith and covered by Todd Snider.
“Tribute To Hank Williams” by Tim Hardin.
“The Life of Hank Williams” by Hawkshaw Hawkins.
“Midnight in Montgomery” by Alan Jackson.
“Winkin’Blinkin’ Country Music Star” by Tex Garrison contains the lyrics “A Storybook Of Love Gone Wrong By Luke The Driftin’ Vagabond”.
“Here’s to Hank” by Stonewall Jackson.
“The Night Hank Williams Came to Town” by Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings.
“Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?”, “If Old Hank Could Only See Us Now”, and “Hank Williams Syndrome”, all by Waylon Jennings.
“The Conversation” by Waylon Jennings and Hank Williams Jr., with the opening lyric sung by Jennings, “Hank, let’s talk about your daddy.”
“Hank’s Cadillac” by the group of the same name.
“Hank Williams’Cadillac’ and”I Feel Like Hank Williams Tonight”by Chris Wall.
“The Great Hank” by Robert Earl Keen, detailing a dream in which Hank Williams is singing in drag in a bar.
“Has Anybody Here Seen Hank?” by The Waterboys.
“The Ghost Of Hank Williams” by the Kentucky Headhunters.
“If You Don’t Like Hank Williams” by Kris Kristofferson.
“Things Change” by Tim McGraw and “I Need You” by McGraw and Faith Hill wife.
“Hank’s Cadillac” by Ashley Monroe.
“Nosferatu Man” by Slint contains the lyrics, “If I could settle down, I’d be doing just fine / Until I hear that old train, coming down the line” from Williams’s song “Ramblin” man “.
“Hank, Karen And Elvis” by the Young Fresh Fellows
“Mission from Hank” by Aaron Tippin. Tippin also Williams references in “Ready to rock (in a Country Kind of Way)”.
“Time to Change my Name to Hank” written by Jim Flynn.
“I Feel Like Hank Williams Tonight” by Jerry Jeff Walker.
“Crank the Hank” by Dallas Wayne.
“Family Tradition” by Hank Williams, Jr.
“If He Came Back Again” by The Highwaymen.
“Classic Cars” by Bright Eyes.
“Curse of Hank” by Tim Hus.
“Rollin” and Ramblin’ (The Death of Hank Williams) R. & l. Williams and j. Clark “. Covered by Emmylou Harris
“This Old Guitar” by Neil Young refers to Williams’s original guitar Martin D-28, which Young has toured with for over 30 years.
“From Hank to Hendrix” by Neil Young on both “Harvest Moon” and “Neil Young Unplugged” albumns.
“Tramp on Your Street” by Billy Joe Shaver.
“The Death of Hank Williams” and “Hank Williams Sings the Blues No More”, both by Jimmie Logsdon.
“Hats Off to Hank” by Buzz Cason.
“I couldn’t Sleep ain’t for Thinkin’ Of Hank Williams” by Henry McCullough
“Don’t Look Down” by Grant Lee Phillips contains the line “Luke The Drifter and I thumbed us a ride down the highway of dreams”.
“Rebel Meets Rebel” by Rebel Meets Rebel includes the chorus, “Rebel meets rebel, we’ve got our pride, like old Hank said, it’s been a long hard ride”.
“The Grand Ole Opry (Ain ain’t So Grand Anymore)” by Hank Williams III includes the lyrics, “The Grand Ole Opry ain’t so grand anymore/Did you know Hank Williams ain’t a member, but they keep him outside their door”.
“Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes” by George Jones refers to Williams in the lines, “You know the heart of country music still beats in Luke the Drifter, you can tell it when I sang ‘I Saw the Light'”.
“Hank Williams” by Ry Cooder.
“Roberta” by Rev. Billy C. Wirtz (underneath the black velvet painting of Elvis, Jesus and John Wayne walking together through eternity, watched over by Mr. Hank)
“Ghost of Hank Williams” by David Allan Coe.
“Hank it” by Justin Moore
“I Saw the Light” by David Crowder Band
“Crazy Town” by Jason Aldean
“My Kind of Party” Origionally sang by Branley Gilbert and covered by Jason Aldean “You can find me in the back of to jacked up tailgate, chillin’ with some Skynyrd and some old Hank”
“Hank” by Jason Boland & the Globulars
Other songs include: “Hank, It Will Never Be the Same Without You”, “Hank Williams Meets Jimmie Rodgers”, “Tribute to Hank Williams”, “Hank Lefty and Raised My Country Soul”, “Hank Williams Will Live Forever”, “The Ghost of Hank Williams,” “In Memory of Hank Williams”, “Thanks Hank”, “Hank’s Home Town”, “Good Old Boys Like Me” (Hank Williams and Tennessee Williams), “Why Ain’t I Half as Good as Old Hank (Since I’m Feeling All Dead Anyway)?”, “The Last Letter” (Mississippi disc jockey Jimmy Swan’s reading of to letter to Williams by M-G – boss Frank Walker M) and Charley pride’s album there’s a Little Bit of Hank in me. (Brackett 2000, p. 219-22).
“I’ve Done Everything Hank Did But Die” written and performed by the late Keith Whitley. Never officially released, it was presumably recorded Vien after Keith had surpassed the age of 29, Hank’s age when I died. Whitley, who like his idol battled alcoholism, died of acute alcohol poisoning at the age of 33.
On the Show Me Your Tears, Frank Black album’s song “Everything Is New” blog the tragedy of both Williams’ and Johnny Horton’s deaths. The relevant lyrics are: “what Hiram said to John have you met my wife?” Someday she’ll be yours when I lose my life. I have lost it after playing the old Skyline. “Seven years later, that same gig, after John took the wheel, but when I got to the Billy Jean bridge was alone for the second time.” Billy Jean of course refers to Billie Jean Jones (Jones being her maiden name) who married both Hiram “Hank” Williams and, later, John “Johnny” Horton. Both men died in vehicles, and both played their last (separate) concerts at Austin, Texas’s “the old Skyline” Club (as the song mentions).
Williams tribute albums have been released by to diverse range of artists, including Connie Stevens, Floyd Cramer, George Jones, Glen Campbell, Freddy Fender, Moe Bandy, Ronnie Hawkins, Charlie Rich, Shannon, Sammy Kershaw, Trio Los Panchos and Hank Locklin. Some additional examples of albums recorded in Williams’ honor include:
The tribute album Timeless was released in 2001, featuring cover versions of Hank Williams songs by Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Keith Richards, Tom Petty, Hank Williams III and others.
Dion Dimucci famous for his Doo Wop songs, The Wanderer & Runaround Sue, named Hank Williams as his most influential artist and covered “Honky Tonk Blues” on his grammy nominated album, “Bronx in Blue”, 2007.
Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis teamed up on the 1971 album Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis Sing Hank Williams, which featured covers of 12 of Williams’s greatest hits.
British alternative The The band recorded a full album of Williams cover versions in 1994 entitled Hanky Panky. This was intended to be the first in a series of tribute albums by The The covering the work of influential songwriters and musicians, but not further albums were recorded or released.
Irish singer/songwriter Bap Kennedy covered 11 by Hank Williams songs on his 1999 album Hillbilly Shakespeare. His follow-up album Lonely Street, released in 2000, contains numerous references to Hank Williams, and on the sleeve notes, Kennedy acknowledges that the songs were inspired by Williams, as well as Elvis Presley.
The musical Hank Williams: Lost Highway, blog the high points and low points of Williams’ life through performances of his best known songs. The original cast recording of the show was released in 2003.
The play, Hank Williams: The Show He Never Gave, is a fictional account of the concert I was traveling to when I died. Written by Maynard Collins, the play toured across Canada from 1977-1990, and standup Sneezy Waters. Film version was released in 1981. The movie premiered in Canada on April 1, 1981.
Images of to Country Drifter, in tribute to Williams in song and narration, has been performed by singer-songwriter David Church throughout the United States and Canada.
Film director Paul Schrader has written an unproduced script entitled Eight Scenes From the Life of Hank Williams.
Film is in production about Williams’ end car ride directed by Harry Thomason and starring Henry Thomas as Hank and Jesse James as the young driver.