Hiram “Hank” King Williams was born on September 17, 1923 at Mount Olive, Alabama. Small and fragile, his pain would start early due to a disorder of the spinal column that would lead to alcohol and drug use throughout his life.
At seven years of age his father was hospitalized for the remainder of Hanks childhood. His mother would send him at ten to live with his uncle and aunt, where he learned to play the guitar. In his early teens, while living in Montgomery, Alabama Hank Williams was invited to perform on WSFA radio, where he would host is own 15 minute show twice weekly.
Dropping out of school, Hank was soon traveling the area with his own band, the “Drifting Cowboys”. In August of 1948, he joined the Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport, Louisiana that was broadcast into living rooms all across the south. The stage was set for his first big hit, “Lovesick Blues” that reached the top of the country Hit Parade in the spring of 1949.
A year later Hanks chart topping success would repeat with “Long Gone Lonesome Blues,” “Why Don’t You Love Me” and “Moanin’ the Blues”. In 1951, “Cold, Cold Heart” and “Hey Good Lookin’” reached #1. “Jambalaya,” a Grammy Hall of Fame winner topped the charts before Hank Williams’ “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive” was the #1 song at the time of his death on New Years day, 1953. Three more reached #1 that year, “Kaw-Liga,” “Your Cheatin Heart” and “Take These Chains from My Heart”.
Among other Hank Williams top ten hits were, “You Win Again,” “My Bucket’s Got a Hole In It,” “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”, “Settin’ the Woods on Fire,” “I Can’t Help It If I’m Still In Love With You” and “Half as Much”. Many of the songs Hank Williams wrote would become big hits when recorded by pop artists then and now.
On January 1, 1953 Hank Williams died while in route from Knoxville, Tennessee to Canton, Ohio for a show. At just 29 years of age, he achieved legendary status as a country music icon.
In 1960, Williams’ star was placed on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1961 and the Hit Parade Hall of Fame in 2008.