Hank Williams is considered America’s first superstar in the genre of country music. His way to success was speedy and so was all the tribulations. He died at the young age of 29.
Who was Hank Williams?
Hank William rose to fame and established himself as a successful composer, singer and songwriter of American Country Music with smash hits like ‘Your Cheating Heart’, ‘Cold, Cold Heart,’ ‘Hey, Good Lookin’ and ‘I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive’. He dies in the backseat of his Cadillac in 1953.
He took birth on September 17, 1923, in Mount Olive, Alabama. Christened as Hiram Williams by his family, the country superstar was considered to have been cut out of the village stock. He was third among his brother and sisters. He was brought up by his parents, Lon and Lillie Williams who had humble means.
His father joined the Veterans Administration hospital when Hanks turned six. He worked as a logger before that. His father was home rarely because of his job and he saw him less till he completed 16 years of age. His mother ran rooming houses. His family moved around in Alabama from Mount Olive to Greenville and later Montgomery.
He was suffering from a medical condition spina bifida which made him look weak and different from other children. He felt separated and aloof in society because of his physical limitations.
Church choirs and radio played an important role in helping him identifying and finding his natural inclination towards music. He learned to play folk music from a street musician named Rufus Payne at the age of 8. The African American street musician used to play blues.
He moved to Montgomery in 1937 and debuted on a radio show at the age of 13. At 14, he started participating in talent shows and made his band named Hank Williams and his Drifting Cowboys.
His mother Lillie supported him to chase his dream of becoming a musician. She used to drive her son and his band to reach different locations across Alabama for performances. For three years he performed at local gigs after he drew the attention of music producers in Nashville in the 1940s.
He indulged in heavy substance abuse and alcoholism, sometimes to relieve himself from the back pain owing to his medical condition. He would often appear late on the location of shows drunk and not fit for performing. This started affecting his career as he became infamous for becoming an unreliable performer.
Though his career was brief as his life, he is one of the most celebrated musicians of the 20th century. He died on 1 January 1953 at the back seat of his Cadillac in Oak Hill, West Virginia.