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Hiram "Hank" King Williams

Also Known As: "Hank Williams", "Luke The Drifter", "Hiram Williams"
Birthdate: (29)
Birthplace: Mount Olive, Jefferson County, Alabama, United States
Death: January 01, 1953 (29)
Oak Hill, Fayette County, West Virginia, United States
Place of Burial: Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Elonzo Huble Williams and Jesse Lillybelle "Lilly" Skipper/Lillian Skipper Williams
Husband of Audrey Williams
Father of Private
Brother of Earnest Huble Williams and Irene Smith (Williams)

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Hank Williams

An American singer-songwriter and musician regarded as among the greatest country music stars of all time.

Hank Williams (September 17, 1923 – January 1, 1953), born Hiram King Williams, was an American singer-songwriter and musician regarded as one of the most important country music artists of all time. Williams recorded 35 singles (five released posthumously) that would place in the Top 10 of the Billboard Country & Western Best Sellers chart, including 11 that ranked number one.

Born in Mount Olive, Alabama, Williams moved to Georgiana, where he met Rufus Payne, a black street performer who gave Williams guitar lessons in exchange for meals. Payne had a major influence on Williams's later musical style. During this time, Williams informally changed his name to Hank, believing it to be a better name for country music. After moving to Montgomery, Williams began his career in 1937 when WSFA radio station producers hired him to perform and host a 15-minute program. He formed as backup the Drifting Cowboys band, which was managed by his mother, and dropped out of school to devote all of his time to his career.

When several of his band members were conscripted to military service during World War II, Williams had trouble with their replacements and started taking alcohol as self-medication for his health problem, causing WSFA to dismiss him. Williams eventually married Audrey Sheppard, who became his manager for nearly a decade. After recording "Never Again" and "Honky Tonkin'" with Sterling Records, he signed a contract with MGM Records. In 1948 he released "Move it on Over," which became a hit, and also joined the Louisiana Hayride radio program. In 1949, he released a cover of "Lovesick Blues," which carried him into the mainstream of music. After an initial rejection, Williams joined the Grand Ole Opry. He had 11 number one songs between 1948 and 1953, though he was unable to read or notate music to any significant degree. Among the hits he wrote were "Your Cheatin' Heart," "Hey, Good Lookin'," and "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry."

During his last years Williams's consumption of alcohol, morphine and other painkillers severely compromised his professional and personal life. He divorced his wife and was dismissed by the Grand Ole Opry due to frequent drunkenness. Williams died suddenly in 1953 at the age of 29. Despite his short life, Williams has had a major influence on country music. The songs he wrote & recorded have been covered by numerous 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 such as Hank Williams Jr, Willie Nelson, Townes Van Zandt, Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, Leonard Cohen, Cake, Kenny Rankin, Beck Hansen, Johnny Cash, Tony Bennett, The Residents, Patsy Cline, Ray Charles, Jerry Lee Lewis, Louis Armstrong, Tom Petty, Linda Ronstadt, Sheryl Crow, Norah Jones, Emmylou Harris, Elvis Costello, Lucinda Williams, Isaac Hayes, Tom Waits, and Matt Johnson. He has received numerous honors and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Famous country music singer.

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Birth: Sep. 17, 1923 Death: Jan. 1, 1953

Country-Music Singer, Guitarist and Songwriter. Hank Williams peacefully and quietly passed away at age 29 due to a heart attack while en route to a performance in Canton, Ohio in the back seat of his 1952 Cadillac. His hits included a dozen singles at No.1 and many more in the country top 10. Among them were "Your Cheatin Heart" "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" "Cold Cold Heart" "Hey Good Lookin" "Jambalaya" (On the Bayou) "Move It On Over" and "Lovesick Blues." Hank was country music's first superstar, selling ten million records from 1947 to 1953. His songs have become classic's and are still major sellers. He was born Hiram King in the rural area known as Mount Olive near Georgiana, Alabama to parents Alonzo Williams and Jessie Lillybelle Williams. As a youngster, he was introduced to music by his mother and often sang at Mount Olive West Baptist Church while she played the organ. His father was an employee for a lumber company railway line and was frequently transferred by his employer and the family lived in many Southern Alabama towns. At seven, Hiram's life changed radically as his father would be admitted to a veterans hospital where he would remain for some eight years forcing his mother to provide for him and a sister. When he was ten the family briefly lived with his aunt and uncle in Fountain, Alabama, where his aunt Alice McNeil taught him to play the guitar and music became his passion. However, Rufus Payne, an area black intenerate blue musician would befriend him while teaching and influencing his style and desire for a career in music. At sixteen, the family moved to Montgomery where his mother, his Aunt and Uncle opened a boarding house in the downtown area. While attending high school, he became a busker, singing and playing his Sear's Silvertone guitar on the sidewalks for money his main spot in front of radio station WSFA. Noticing his talent the station would invite him inside to play on the air. Public interest in the form of letters and phone calls soon led to his own fifteen-minute show, twice a week and he changed his name to Hank. Encouraged, he quite high school to pursue a career in music. He formed a band while still employed at the station calling it the "Drifting Cowboys." The group played throughout Alabama, performing in clubs and private parties. Dark Clouds began forming for Hank at the start of World War II. He was physically unfit to serve and his entire band was drafted. Hank was born with a disorder of his spinal column commonly known as a bad back, a problem shared by thousands of Americans and only they know the excruciating life long pain that must be endured. Hank began using alcohol and drugs to alleviate the pain. He became a drunk and his band suffered as replacement players quit because of Hanks drinking. Habitually drunk at his radio station job led to his firing. He would be fired from the Grand Ole Opry and his band the "Drifting Cowboys parted company. William's personal life was out of control and his marriages disintegrated. However, he kept producing song after hit song until the fatal trip to Ohio and his short career was over. His funeral was held in a jammed full Montgomery Civic center Auditorium with some 25,000 people crowding around the building outside listening to a piped broadcast. Roy Acuff, Red Foley and Ernest Tubb sang at the service. Legacy...The Alabama Bureau of Tourism and Travel promotes their famous country singer while accommodating the thousands who visit the southern portion of the state attracted by the short life of icon Hank Williams. They have dubbed the areas that he frequented the "Hank Williams Trail." An official brochure outlines an easy to follow guide...The high points are his boyhood home in Georgiana, The Hank Williams Museum in Montgomery and Lincoln Cemetery his burial place. Inducted in the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1961. Inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. Inducted in the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in 1985. Inducted into the Grand Old Opry in 1949. The Broadway play "Hank Williams: Lost Highway" was a tribute to Williams and recounted major events in his life. The movie "Crazy" was made in 2006 and he was portrayed by rock guitarist Steve Vai. Hank is pictured on a 29 cent US commemorative postage stamp in the Legends of American Music series on 25 September, 1993. Son Hank Williams Jr., his daughter Jett Williams and his grandchildren Hank Williams III and Holly Williams and granddaughter Holly carry on in the Country Music field. A life size statue has been erected adjacent to the Montgomery City Hall the site of many of his concerts and scene of his funeral. In a bit of ironic trivia...His mentor Rufus Payne (Tee-Tot) is also buried at Lincoln Cemetery but the exact location of his grave is unknown as recycling has obliterated the site and no marker was ever installed. (bio by: Donald Greyfield (inactive))

Family links:

 Elonzo Huble Williams (1891 - 1970)
 Lillian Skipper Williams (1898 - 1955)

 Audrey Mae Williams (1923 - 1975)

Burial: Oakwood Annex Cemetery Montgomery Montgomery County Alabama, USA

Maintained by: Find A Grave Record added: Jan 01, 2001 Find A Grave Memorial# 1109

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Hank Williams's Timeline

September 17, 1923
Mount Olive, Jefferson County, Alabama, United States
January 1, 1953
Age 29
Oak Hill, Fayette County, West Virginia, United States
January 4, 1953
Age 29
Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama, United States