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Hank Williams

Hiram "Hank" Williams (September 17, 1923 – January 1, 1953) was an American singer, songwriter, and musician. He is regarded as one of the most significant and influential American singers and songwriters of the 20th century. Williams recorded 55 singles that reached the top 10 of the Billboard Country & Western Best Sellers chart, five of which were released posthumously, including 12 that reached No. 1, three of which were released after his death.

Born and raised in Alabama, Williams learned guitar from African-American blues musician Rufus Payne in exchange for meals or money. Payne and Roy Acuff had a significant influence on Williams' musical style. Williams began his professional career in Montgomery in 1937 when local radio station WSFA hired him to perform on a 15-minute program. He formed the Drifting Cowboys backup band, which was managed by his mother, and dropped out of school to devote his time to his career. When several of his band members were drafted during World War II, he had trouble with their replacements, and WSFA terminated his contract because of his alcoholism.

Williams married Audrey Sheppard, who managed his career for nearly a decade. After recording "Never Again" and "Honky Tonkin'" with Sterling Records, he signed a contract with MGM Records. In 1947, he released the hit single "Move It On Over" and joined the Louisiana Hayride radio program. One year later, he released a cover of "Lovesick Blues" which quickly reached number one on Billboard's Top Country & Western singles chart and propelled him to stardom on the Grand Ole Opry. Although unable to read or notate music to any significant degree, he wrote such iconic hits as "Your Cheatin' Heart", "Hey, Good Lookin'", and "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry". In 1952, Sheppard divorced him and he married Billie Jean Horton. He was dismissed by the Grand Ole Opry because of his unreliability and alcoholism.

Years of back pain, alcoholism, and prescription drug abuse severely compromised Williams' health, and at the age of 29, Williams suffered from heart failure and died suddenly in the back seat of a car near Oak Hill, West Virginia en route to a concert in Canton, Ohio on New Year's Day 1953. Despite his relatively brief career, he is one of the most celebrated and influential musicians of the 20th century, especially in country music. Many artists have covered his songs and he has influenced Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, and the Rolling Stones, among others. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1961, the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, the Native American Music Awards Hall of Fame in 1999, and gained a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2010 he was awarded a posthumous Pulitzer Prize Special Citation for his "craftsmanship as a songwriter who expressed universal feelings with poignant simplicity and played a pivotal role in transforming country music into a major musical and cultural force in American life."

Birth and Death Data: Born September 17, 1923 (Mount Olive), Died January 1, 1953 (Oak Hill)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1946 - 1953

Roles Represented in DAHR: composer, lyricist, guitar, songwriter

= Recordings are available for online listening.
= Recordings were issued from this master. No recordings issued from other masters.

Recordings (Results 1-25 of 31 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor E0VB-3606 10-in. 4/11/1950 Honky-tonkin' Spade Cooley ; Ginny Jackson ; Spade Cooley Orchestra Female vocal solo, with instrumental ensemble composer  
Victor E0VB-4029 10-in. 3/27/1950 Jesus remembered me Johnnie and Jack ; Tennessee Mountain Boys Male vocal duet, with string band composer  
Victor E0VB-4726 10-in. 5/28/1950 Why don't you love me? Bill Boyd ; Cowboy Ramblers Male vocal solo, with string band composer  
Victor E0VB-5814 10-in. 10/20/1950 'Neath a cold gray tomb of stone Kentucky Pardners (Charlie Monroe) ; Charlie Monroe Male vocal solo, with string band songwriter  
Victor E0VB-5816 10-in. 10/20/1950 I'm gonna sing, sing, sing Kentucky Pardners (Charlie Monroe) ; Charlie Monroe Male vocal solo, with string band composer  
Victor E1VB-0934 10-in. 5/6/1951 Jesus is calling Kentucky Pardners (Charlie Monroe) ; Charlie Monroe Male vocal solo, with string band songwriter  
Victor E1FB-4474 10-in. 11/28/1951 Corazon frio Los Tres Diamantes Male vocal trio, with instrumental ensemble composer  
Victor D7VB-0798 10-in. 8/13/1947 I saw the light Leonard Dabney ; Clyde Grubb ; Clarence Harrell ; Tennessee Valley Boys (Clyde Grubb) Male vocal duet, with string band composer  
Victor D7VB-1000 10-in. 8/13/1947 When God comes and gathers his jewels Leonard Dabney ; Clyde Grubb ; Tennessee Valley Boys (Clyde Grubb) Male vocal solo, with string band composer  
Victor D9AB-2141 10-in. 8/11/1949 Mind your own business '49ers [Jesse Rogers] Male vocal solo, with string band composer  
Columbia RHCO4092 10-in. 6/5/1950 Honey do you love me - huh? Georgia Peach Pickers ; Curley Williams String band, with mixed vocal trio songwriter  
Columbia CCO4696 10-in. 12/16/1946 When God comes to gather his jewels Molly O'Day String band, with female vocal solo composer, lyricist  
Columbia CCO4702 10-in. 12/16/1946 Six more miles Cumberland Mountain Folks String band, with female vocal solo composer, lyricist  
Columbia CCO4895 10-in. 11/18/1947 I saw the light Roy Acuff and his Smoky Mountain Boys String band, with male vocal solo and male vocal ensemble composer, lyricist  
Columbia CO38757 10-in. 12/28/1947 Singing waterfall Cumberland Mountain Folks ; Molly O'Day String band, with female vocal solo composer, lyricist  
Columbia CO38760 10-in. 12/28/1947 I don't care if tomorrow never comes Molly O'Day String band, with female vocal solo composer, lyricist  
Columbia CO41723 10-in. 9/11/1949 No not now Georgia Peach Pickers ; Curley Williams ; Curley Williams String band, with mixed vocal duet songwriter  
Columbia CO42586 10-in. 12/18/1949 Jesus died for me Roy Acuff and his Smoky Mountain Boys String band, with male vocal solo composer, lyricist  
Columbia CO45226 10-in. 1/30/1951 There's nothing as sweet as my baby Carl Smith Male vocal solo, with string band composer, lyricist  
Columbia CO46367 10-in. 6/8/1951 Me and my broken heart Carl Smith Male vocal solo, with string band composer, lyricist  
Columbia CO46990 10-in. 10/16/1951 Weary blues (from waiting) Ray Price Male vocal solo, with string band composer, lyricist  
Chess U7379 10-in. 1951 Cold, cold heart Eddie Johnson composer  
Chess U7380 10-in. 1951 Walk softly Eddie Johnson composer  
Decca 76046 3/28/1950 My tightwad Daddy Audrey Williams instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca 76047 3/28/1950 Model T love Audrey Williams instrumentalist, guitar  
(Results 1-25 of 31 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Williams, Hank," accessed May 28, 2024, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/103393.

Williams, Hank. (2024). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved May 28, 2024, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/103393.

"Williams, Hank." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2024. Web. 28 May 2024.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/103393

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