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Died On This Date (January 1, 1953) Hank Williams / Country Music Icon

Posted by themusicsover on January 1, 2010

Hiram “Hank” Williams
September 17, 1923 – January 1, 1953

Hank Williams was not only the patriarch of a musical family that includes Hank Jr, Hank III, Holly Williams, Jett Williams and Hillary Williams, but is also considered by many to be the patriarch of honky-tonk music.  Williams’ career began when, at 17, he took up residence outside the local radio station on weekends and after school.  He was soon invited to perform on the air which lead to a twice-weekly program of his own.  Over the course of the next 15 years, Williams released a string of records that cemented his place in music history as one of the most influential songwriters of all time.  With nearly a dozen #1 hits, his catalog included such classic country songs as “Move it on Over,” “Jambalaya,” “Hey Good Lookin’,” “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” and “Cold, Cold Heart.”  Not only have his songs been covered by hundreds of country, folk, R&B, and rock singers, but Williams himself has been the subject of or mentioned in over 50 songs by the likes of Waylon Jennings, Neil Young, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Alan Jackson, Johnny Cash, and even Charles Manson.  Sadly however, Williams was strongly addicted to alcohol and drugs, likely due in part to the pain caused by a lifetime of an undiagnosed spinal column disorder.  On January 1, 1953, Williams hired a “long black Cadillac” limousine to drive him from Knoxville, Tennessee to a gig in Canton, Ohio.  Before the trip, he reportedly injected himself with vitamin B12 and morphine.   Later that afternoon, the driver pulled over at a filling station and checked in on Williams only to find him dead.  Hank Williams, age 29, was dead of what was officially ruled heart failure.

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One Response to “Died On This Date (January 1, 1953) Hank Williams / Country Music Icon”

  1. james boag said

    Hank was an expression of our common humanity, a humanity that sometimes feels like an island in a cold dark sea, certainly with that plaintive voice of his it seemed an echo over those lonely waters. Few could be more clearly seen from a stage to be be the human condition itself, we identified with Hank, and somehow our lives were shared as was the common sufferings of our lives. It is rare someone comes along who can so readily play upon the strings of the human heart, there was a reason the phrase was coined, “The Hillbilly Shakespeare.” The suffering Hank experienced and sang about is still with us all as is his memory, wasn’t he something!!!

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