Hank Williams

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Williams, Hank,

1923–53, American country singer and songwriter, b. near Georgiana, Ala., as Hiram Williams. He is widely regarded as the leading figure in the history of country music (see country and western musiccountry and western music,
American popular music form originating in the Southeast (country music) and the Southwest and West (western music). The two regional styles coalesced in the 1920s when recorded material became available in rural areas, and they were further
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). During his teenage years Williams began singing in Southern roadhouses, theaters, and radio stations. He signed his first recording contract in 1946 and the following year produced his first hit, "Move It On Over." In 1949 his greatest hit, "Lovesick Blues," was released and he made a spectacular debut on the Grand Ole OpryGrand Ole Opry,
weekly American radio program featuring live country and western music. The nation's oldest continuous radio show, it was first broadcast in 1925 on Nashville's WSM as an amateur showcase.
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. His melancholy voice and powerful, simply written songs earned him 27 Top 10 hits in the period 1949–53. His recordings continue to attract fans decades after his death.


See biographies by C. Escott (1994) and P. Hemphill (2005).

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Williams, (Hiram) Hank

(1923–53) composer, lyricist; born in Olive Hill, Ala. As a young boy he joined the local church choir, taught himself guitar (and, legend claims, learned music from a local African-American street singer). In 1937 he won an amateur music contest and soon began singing on radio. In 1939 he formed Hank Williams and His Drifting Cowboys and began performing at honky-tonks and square dances. He worked in shipbuilding during World War II and reunited the Drifting Cowboys in 1944. He moved to Nashville, Tenn., in 1946 and became a regular performer on Louisiana Hayride, a country music radio show in 1947. In 1949 he began recording for MGM Records and caused a sensation at the "Grand Ole Opry" when he sang "Lovesick Blues" (1922, by Irving Mills and Cliff Friend), his recording of which reached No. 1 on the country music charts. Many hits followed, including "Hey, Good Lookin'" (1951) and "Your Cheatin' Heart" (1953). Called the "hillbilly Shakespeare," he wrote simple melodies mixing gospel, blues, and country, and his words and singing evoked a powerful sense of emotion; as much as anyone he was responsible for country music's being taken up by a broader public. Unsettled by a chronic back condition and a broken marriage, in 1953 he died of a heart attack attributed to drugs, alcohol, and insomnia, leaving a legacy of over 100 classic country songs. His son, Hank Williams Jr., became a popular country singer in the 1960s.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
References in periodicals archive ?
What we don't learn directly but can infer from Hank Williams and country music tradition is a viable alternative to honky-tonk escapism.
Backed by a four-piece band, just like Williams performed, the show is chock full of Hank's hits from "Your Cheatin' Heart" and "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry," to "Hey Good Lookin" and "Lovesick Blues." Not only will the great songs of Hank Williams Sr.
Out of the blue one day, Martin--a voracious reader of supermarket tabloids--announces the theory that, not unlike the oft-sighted Elvis Presley, Hank Williams may really be alive and well someplace.
The honky-punk singer and grandson of Hank Williams mixes up true country, songs that recall the lonesome twang of his famous ancestor, with screeching rock inspired by the Misfits, the Melvins and the other punk bands he grew up on.
Townes Van Zandt--the late ballad singer best known for the epic "Pancho and Lefty"--hadn't fully digested his influences yet: The woeful twang on "Waitin' for the Day" recalls Hank Williams, while "Black Jack Mama" matches the swagger of a young Bob Dylan.
A tight band of top musicians backed a mixture of Hank Williams, Carl Perkins and, at one stage, a waltzy number that would not be out of place at a tea dance.
Hank Williams was on the same show, and Hank was the older artist with more records out and more time in the business.
Elizabeth Gilbert's profile of Hank Williams's grandson is replete with crude language, and some of the other essays have passages not suitable for classroom use.
The TV show is a collaboration between Cameron and Hank Williams, the president of CEG-ITV.
So it is with Marlon Williams, the Kiwi troubadour who evokes the spirit of Hank Williams and Willie Nelson.
BORN HANK Williams, US country singer, 1923 ANNE Bancroft, US actress, 1931, above TESSA Jowell, British MP, 1947 DIED
The pair have just finished filming the Hank Williams biopic I Saw The Light.