What do Beck, British punk band The -The, George Thoroughgood and Cheryl Crow have in common? This diverse group has at least one thing in common: they all created covers of Hank Williams’ songs. Hank Williams, America’s first country music star, made an impact on American music in a way you can never forget.
Hiram King Williams was born on September 17, 1923 in Butler County, Alabama. Hiram was born with mild spina bifida. He could not play sports or farm like other children; instead, Hiram took an interest in music. In his youth, Hiram studied Christianity and gospel, folk ballads and early country songs. Perhaps the most significant influence on his musical upbringing was the black singer Rufus “Teetot” Payne, who taught him to play guitar and sing the blues. Hiram also learned moonshine and started drinking at the age of 11.
In 1937, Hiram won a competition that gave him a radio broadcast twice a week. About this time, Hiram’s name was Hank. Shortly thereafter, his mother (who raised Hank herself) helped him start Drifting Cowboys, and the group began playing on the Alabama road circuit. At 16, Hank dropped out of high school and has made appearances statewide at band shows and talent shows.
During World War II, Hank undertook several war-related work, but returned to music in 1943. Around this time, Hank began drinking more to compensate for his increasing back pain. However, this did not prevent him from achieving success with two singles at the turn of 1946 and 1947. Later that year, Hank scored his first hit “Move It on Over.”
In 1948, Hank got his first recording contract and joined the Louisiana Hayride radio show. On June 11, 1949, Williams performed “Lovesick Blues” at the Grand Ole Opry and received an unprecedented number of encores. The song became a hit, staying at number one in the country charts for 16 weeks and even made it into the top 25 of pop music charts.
Hank became a leading country artist in 1949 and 1950. He wrote songs compulsively. Out of 66 songs recorded under his own name, Hank has produced 37 country hits, 29 of which have achieved top 10 status. In 1951 and 1952, each song Hank recorded reached the top 5. Hank’s most famous songs include “Your Cheatin ‘Heart”, “Hey, Good Lookin”, “Cold, Cold Heart” and “I’m So Lonesome I Could.” Cry. ”
Unfortunately, while the popularity of Hank’s music grew by leaps and bounds, his personal life was falling apart. The endless journey increased the pain in his back, forcing him to drink. When he managed to perform, he was often drunk or unprepared. The trips to the sanatorium for rehab was interspersed with obligations. His lifestyle led to hepatitis and episodes of malnutrition, and in 1951 he had a heart attack. After spinal surgery that worsened his back, Hank began to abuse drugs.
Hank was released from the Grand Ole Opry in August 1952. Though his records were at the top of the charts, he played in brasseries. Four months later, Williams suffered another heart attack. He was pronounced dead on January 1, 1953.
Although Hank passed away, the musicians kept his music alive by re-interpreting it for the popular market. People heated up even more to the song “Cold, Cold Heart”, which was performed by the singer many times, including Perry Como, Norah Jones, Nat King Cole, Aretha Franklin, Louis Armstrong, Keith Richards and Bob Dylan. The covers of many other songs have produced hits for artists from Fats Domino to The. The resulting album is Hank Williams’ tribute, Timeless, which features covers of Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Keith Richards, Beck and Hank’s grandson Hank III. Most recently, in October 2011, Bob Dylan released The Lost Notebooks, a compilation of songs with Hank’s lyrics that were previously non-musical. Artists on the album include Norah Jones, Merle Haggard and Cheryl Crow.
Hank Williams was the force that shook off the rural image of country music. He set the standard for contemporary country music and all poetic songwriting. His simple, emotional lyrics defined the country genre. Given these achievements, Hank Williams is considered one of the most legendary and influential figures in American music. Hank may have lived only 29 years, but his legacy as the father of country music will live forever.
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