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.
In a photograph taken at a family reunion, c. 1925, young Hiram (Hank) Williams stands, far left, in front of his mother, Lillie Williams. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, courtesy of Hank Williams Boyhood Home/Museum)
Hank Williams Sr. played at “honky tonks,” bars with rowdy atmospheres frequented by newcomers to the city. The sentiments of Williams’ songs appealed to Southerners who had migrated to urban areas. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, property of the Alabama Music Hall of Fame)
Hank and Hezzy’s Driftin’ Cowboys, from left: Smith Adair, Braxton Schuffert, Irene Williams, unknown, Hank Williams, Carolyn Parker and Freddie Beach. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, courtesy of Alabama Department of Archives and History)
Hank and Audrey Williams, c. 1950. They married in 1944, and for a time Audrey worked with Hank to promote his career. The couple had a turbulent relationship, which inspired many of Williams’ songs. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, courtesy of Hank Williams Boyhood Home/Museum)
Hank Williams Sr. and Hank Williams Jr., c. 1950. Hank Williams Jr. was born to Hank and Audrey Williams on May 26, 1949, in Shreveport, Louisiana. At 8 years of age, Hank Jr. was touring, playing his father’s songs, and at age 11 he made his first appearance at the Grand Ole Opry. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, courtesy of Hank Williams Boyhood Home/Museum)
Grave of Hank and Audrey Williams, Oakwood Annex, Montgomery, 2010. (The George F. Landegger Collection of Alabama Photographs in Carol M. Highsmith’s America, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)
Hank Williams statue, Lister Hill Plaza in Montgomery, 2010. (The George F. Landegger Collection of Alabama Photographs in Carol M. Highsmith’s America, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)
For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.