On this day in Alabama history: Hank Williams Museum opened

On this day in Alabama history: Hank Williams Museum opened
Hiram "Hank" King Williams (1923-53) lived 29 years and recorded music for only six, but he left an indelible mark on country music, helping push it to national acceptance. His stormy personal life and struggles with alcohol and drugs fueled the heartache and despair that endeared listeners to his music. Before his death in 1952, Williams had 36 singles on the country-western Top 10. He was the first artist inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1961. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, courtesy of Alabama Department of Archives and History)

February 8, 1999

The Hank Williams Museum opened on this day in Montgomery. The museum pays tribute to the life and accomplishments of country music legend Hank Williams Sr. Long-time fan Cecil Franklin Jackson founded the museum. An 8-year-old Jackson first met Williams in 1944 at a service station near his childhood home in Elmore County. As an adult, Jackson played an influential role in a number of celebrations of Williams’s accomplishments, helping to erect the Hank Williams statue that now stands in Montgomery about one block north of the museum. He also founded an international fan club to bring awareness of Williams’ musical influence to an international audience. Jackson led the effort to establish the “Hank Williams Memorial Lost Highway,” which covers a 65-mile stretch along Interstate 65 from Georgiana (the location of Williams’ boyhood home) to Montgomery. The 6,000-square-foot museum at 118 Commerce Street houses items ranging from Hank Williams memorabilia that Jackson collected as a child and adult to items the museum acquired either by purchase or donation. It features Williams’ 1952 baby-blue Cadillac in which he died at age 29 sometime in the morning of Jan. 1, 1953, during a trip from Montgomery to Canton, Ohio.

Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.

For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.

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