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Hiram Williams, Sr.

Also Known As: "Hank"
Birthplace: Mount Olive, Butler County, Alabama, United States
Death: January 01, 1953 (29)
Virginia or West Virginia, United States (acute right ventricular dilation, acute cerebral edema, and acute alcoholism)
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 Mae Williams
Partner of Bobbie Webb Tippins
Father of Private; Private and Hank Williams Jr.
Brother of Charlie Williams; Earnest Huble Williams and Irene Smith (Williams)

Occupation: Singer-songwriter
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Hank Williams

Hank Williams was an American singer, songwriter, and musician. Regarded as one of the most significant and influential American singers and songwriters of the 20th century, he recorded 35 singles (five released posthumously) that reached the top 10 of the Billboard Country & Western Best Sellers chart, including 11 that reached No. 1 (three posthumously).

Born and raised in Alabama, Williams was given guitar lessons by African-American blues musician Rufus Payne in exchange for meals or money. Payne, along with Roy Acuff and Ernest Tubb, had a major influence on Williams's later musical style. Williams began his music career in Montgomery in 1937, when producers at local radio station WSFA hired him to perform and host a 15-minute program. He formed the Drifting Cowboys backup band, which was managed by his mother, and dropped out of school to devote his time to his career. When several of his band members were drafted during World War II, he had trouble with their replacements, and WSFA terminated his contract because of his alcoholism.

Williams married singer Audrey Sheppard, who was his manager for nearly a decade. After recording "Never Again" and "Honky Tonkin'" with Sterling Records, he signed a contract with MGM Records. In 1947, he released "Move It on Over", which became a hit, and also joined the Louisiana Hayride radio program. One year later, he released a cover of "Lovesick Blues," which carried him into the mainstream. After an initial rejection, Williams joined the Grand Ole Opry. 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."

Years of back pain, alcoholism, and prescription drug abuse severely compromised Williams's health. In 1952, he divorced Sheppard and married singer Billie Jean Horton. He was dismissed by the Grand Ole Opry because of his unreliability and alcoholism. On New Year's Day 1953, he suffered from heart failure and died suddenly at the age of 29 in Oak Hill, West Virginia.

Despite his relatively brief career, he is one of the most celebrated and influential musicians of the 20th century, especially in country music. Many artists have covered his songs and he has influenced Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, George Jones, Charley Pride, and The Rolling Stones, among others. Williams was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1961, the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. The Pulitzer Prize jury awarded him a posthumous special citation in 2010 for his "craftsmanship as a songwriter who expressed universal feelings with poignant simplicity and played a pivotal role in transforming country music into a major musical and cultural force in American life." (Wikipedia, CC BY-SA)


Note: Hank Williams' full name was Hiram Williams -- he had no middle initial, nor was his middle name "King." See here for an explanation.

Note: The exact place of Hank Williams' death is unknown, since he died while riding in a car and was not found to be deceased until after rigor had set in. The death certificate was issued in Oak Hill, Fayette County, West Virginia, but only since that is where he was found deceased. As explained by Peter Cooper of The Tennessean: "Hank Williams died in Knoxville or Bristol or Mount Hope, W.Va., or any number of other places. Maybe it was within a couple of miles from where the Daddy Owes Pool Hall now stands in Bean Station, Tenn., or right around where you'll see Hillbilly Auto Sales in Ghent, W.Va. The only place he surely didn't die along twisted 11W or desolate 19 North is the place listed on his death certificate: the West Virginia town of Oak Hill." See here for details.


  • Allcorn, Joey. "The Truth About Hank Williams' Middle Name.", published 16 September 2021. < link > Accessed 29 December 2021.
  • Cooper, Peter. "Retracing a ghostly night ride." The Tennessean via, published 1 January 2003. < link > Accessed 29 December 2021.
  • "Hank Williams." Wikipedia, revision of 18 March 2021. < link > Accessed 22 March 2021.
  • Lange, Jeffrey J. "Hank Williams Sr." Encyclopedia of Alabama, published 18 September 2014. < link > Accessed 29 December 2021.
  • "Media File." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. < link > Accessed 29 December 2021.
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Hank Williams's Timeline

September 17, 1923
Mount Olive, Butler County, Alabama, United States
May 26, 1949
Shreveport, Caddo Parish, Louisiana, United States
January 1, 1953
Age 29
Virginia or West Virginia, United States
January 4, 1953
Age 29
Oakwood Annex Cemetery, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama, United States