Hiram King “Hank” Williams was born in Alabama and began playing guitar at the age of eight.
As a teenager, he led his own country music outfit and became a nationwide star through the Grand Ole Opry broadcasts.
Hailed as “the greatest hillbilly singer”, Hank signed with MGM in 1947 and recorded an extraordinary series of immediate classics, including; I Saw The Light (1948), Lovesick Blues (1949), I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry (1949), Moanin’ The Blues (1950), Cold, Cold Heart (1951), Hey Good Lookin’ (1951), Jambalaya (1952) and Your Cheatin’ Heart (1953 – later a hit for Ray Charles).
No country singer could write an alone-and-forsaken lament like Williams. Love songs of despair and blues alternated with rowdy honky-tonk novelty songs.
Throughout his life, he was crippled by chronic back pain and alcoholism, and all the hurt and anguish found their way into his voice.
He sang of sex, booze and redemption with all the hand-wringing angst of a thousand troubled rock stars since.
Arguably the father of rock, his Move It On Over was the blueprint for Rock Around The Clock and provided one reason why Hank was elected to the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in 1987.
Williams died of heart failure on New Year’s Day in 1953 in the back seat of a limo on his way to a gig in Canton, Ohio, after receiving a shot of morphine and B12 for back pain and mixing it with whiskey on the long car journey. He was 29.
His recordings continued to be a major influence on country music well into the 1980s and beyond.