Two things country music star Hank Williams, Sr. did right was to become a legend and to have a famous son named Hank Williams, Jr. One thing he did terribly wrong was to drink to excess and die very young. He is considered to be one of the most influential and significant American singers and songwriters of the 20th century. He recorded 35 singles, five of which were released posthumously and had 11 number one country hits of which three reached the top after his death.
The debut of Hank Williams, Sr. at the Grand Ole Opry was a great triumph. The debut remains the most famous in the history of live country music performance program broadcast on WSN Nashville weekly since 1925. When Williams grabbed the microphone on June 11, 1949, on the Grand Ole Opry stage he gave such an electrifying performance that he had to take six encores. He sang what would become his first number one hit “Lovesick Blues” and another song he also wrote, “Mind Your Own Business”.
When Williams first appeared on the Grand Ole Opry he was just 25 years old. He had been performing as a professional musician since he was 14. He went about playing all of the honky-tonks in the Deep South. He soon developed a strong blues-influenced style and began writing his own music. Williams went to Nashville in 1946 to try to sell some of his songs. He soon had a recording contract and his first hit record was “Move It On Over”.
Unfortunately, he soon started drinking heavily. It was the radio show The Louisiana Hayride that gave Williams the chance to be heard by a wide radio audience. When he sang “Lovesick Blues” the song became an instant hit. For this, he also got numerous encores performing in front of a live audience. Among his greatest and well-known songs were “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” and “Cold Cold Heart”.
As his wild drinking days didn’t stop in 1952 the Grand Ole Opry fired him. Just two months later he died of alcohol-induced heart failure at the young age of 29. He passed away on New Year’s Day in 1953. You could say he had a short but electrifying career that left him a legend.