June 11, 1949
A 25-year-old Hank Williams took the stage for the first time at the Grand Ole Opry on June 11, 1949, performing “Lovesick Blues” and “Mind Your Own Business.” The Ryman Auditorium audience called Williams out for six encores and had to be talked down from calling him out for a seventh for the sake of the rest of the show continuing. His performance in front of the wildly enthusiastic crowd led to regular appearances for Williams at the Grand Ole Opry.
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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 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)
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 and 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)
Hank and Audrey Williams, ca. 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’s 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 and 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)
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)
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