Mount Olive, Alabama, USA
Place of Death
Oak Hill, West Virginia, USA
Traditional Country, Honky Tonk
Melancholy, Earthy, Organic, Reckless, Rousing, Rollicking, Passionate, Freewheeling, Plaintive, Yearning, Lively, Rustic, Swaggering, Bleak, Cathartic, Autumnal, Playful, Sad, Bittersweet, Wistful, Rambunctious
Guitar, Vocals, Mastering
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Full Name at Birth
Hiram King Williams
Page Display = 2 (Legacy)
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Hank Williams Jr (son), Hank Williams III (grandson), Jett Williams (daughter)
Has Detailed Data (Music)
Hiram King "Hank" Williams, Sr. (; September 17, 1923 – January 1, 1953) was an American singer-songwriter and musician. Regarded as one of the most significant and influential American singers and songwriters of the 20th century, Williams recorded 35 singles (five released posthumously) that would place in the Top 10 of the Billboard Country & Western Best Sellers chart, including 11 that ranked number one.
Couple Profile Source
Claim to Fame
Williams Began his career in 1937 at WSFA radio Station as and Perform and Host
Audrey Sheppard (wife)
Rufus Payne (Street Performer) Guitar teacher for Hank
Cause of Death
Overdose of morphine and alcohol
Has Detailed Data (105)
Has Detailed Data (76)
Music Profile Complete
Profile Bio Text
Hiram King "Hank" Williams, Sr. (September 17, 1923 – January 1, 1953), was an American singer-songwriter and musician. Regarded as one of the most significant and influential musicians of all-time, Williams recorded 35 singles (five released posthumously) that would place in the Top 10 of the Billboard Country & Western Best Sellers chart, including 11 that ranked number one.
Born in Mount Olive, Butler County, Alabama, Williams moved to Georgiana, where he met Rufus Payne, a black street performer who gave him guitar lessons in exchange for meals or money. Payne had a major influence on Williams's later musical style, along with Roy Acuff and Ernest Tubb. During this time, Williams informally changed his name to Hank, believing it to be a better name for country music. He moved to Montgomery and his music career began there in 1937 when WSFA radio station producers hired him to perform and host a 15-minute program. He formed as backup the Drifting Cowboys 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 conscripted into military service during World War II, Williams had trouble with their replacements and was dismissed by WSFA due to his alcoholism. Williams eventually married Audrey Sheppard, who managed the singer for nearly a decade. After recording "Never Again" and "Honky Tonkin'" with Sterling Records, he signed a contract with MGM Records. In 1948 he released "Move It on Over", which became a hit, and also joined the Louisiana Hayride radio program. One year later, he released a cover of "Lovesick Blues", which carried him into the mainstream of music. After an initial rejection, Williams joined the Grand Ole Opry. He was unable to read or notate music to any significant degree. Among the hits he wrote were "Your Cheatin' Heart", "Hey, Good Lookin'", and "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry".
Several years of back pain, alcoholism, and prescription drug abuse severely deteriorated Williams's health; he divorced Audrey and was dismissed by the Grand Ole Opry, citing unreliability and frequent drunkenness. Williams died in the early morning hours of New Year's Day in 1953 at the age of 29 from heart failure exacerbated by pills and alcohol. Despite his short life, Williams has had a major influence on twentieth-century popular music, majoritively country music in general. The songs he wrote and recorded have been covered by numerous artists, and have been hits in various genres including pop, gospel, and blues. He has been inducted into multiple music halls of fame.
Williams's parents, Elonzo Huble "Lon" Williams and Jessie Lillybelle "Lillie" Skipper married on November 12, 1916. Hank Williams was of English-American ancestry. Elonzo Williams worked as an engineer for the railroads of the W.T. Smith lumber company. He was drafted during World War I, serving from July 1918 until June 1919. He was severely injured after falling from a truck, breaking his collarbone and sustaining a severe hit to the head. After his return, the family's first child, Irene, was born on August 8, 1922. Another son of theirs died shortly after birth. Their third child, Hiram, was born on September 17, 1923, in Mount Olive. Since Elonzo Williams was a Mason, and his wife was a member of Order of the Eastern Star the child was named after Hiram I of Tyre (one of the three founders of the Masons, according to Masonic legend), but his name was misspelled as "Hiriam" on his birth certificate. As a child, he was nicknamed "Harm" by his family and "Herky" or "Poots" by his friends. He was born with spina bifida occulta, a disorder of the spinal column, which gave him lifelong pain—a factor in his later abuse of alcohol and drugs. Williams's father was frequently relocated by the lumber company railway for which he worked, and the family lived in many southern Alabama towns. In 1930, when Williams was seven years old, his father began suffering from facial paralysis. At a Veterans Affairs (VA) clinic in Pensacola, Florida, doctors determined that the cause was a brain aneurysm, and Elonzo was sent to the VA Medical Center in Alexandria, Louisiana. He remained hospitalized for eight years, rendering him mostly absent throughout Hiram's childhood. From that time on, Lillie Williams assumed responsibility for the family. In the fall of 1934 the Williams family moved to Greenville, Alabama, where Lillie opened a boarding house next to the Butler County courthouse. In 1935 the Williams family settled in Garland, Alabama, where Lillie Williams opened a new boarding house. After a while they moved with his cousin Opal McNeil to Georgiana, Alabama where Lillie managed to find several side jobs to support her children, despite the bleak economic climate of the Great Depression. She worked in a cannery and served as a night-shift nurse in the local hospital.
Their first house burned and the family lost its possessions. They moved to a new house on the other side of town on Rose Street, which Williams's mother soon turned into a boarding house. The house had a small garden, on which they grew diverse crops that Williams and his sister Irene sold around Georgiana. At a chance meeting in Georgiana, Hank Williams met U.S. Representative J. Lister Hill while he was campaigning across Alabama. Williams told Hill that his mother was interested to talk with him about his problems and her need to collect Elonzo Williams' disability pension. With Hill's help, the family began collecting the money. Despite his medical condition, the family managed fairly well financially throughout the Great Depression.
There are several versions of how Williams got his first guitar. His mother stated that she bought it with money from selling peanuts, but many other prominent residents of the town claimed to have been the one who purchased the guitar for him. While living in Georgiana, Williams met Rufus "Tee-Tot" Payne, a street performer. Payne gave Williams guitar lessons in exchange for meals prepared by Lillie Williams or money. Payne's base musical style was blues. He taught Williams chords, chord progressions, bass turns, and the musical style of accompaniment that he would use in most of his future songwriting. Later on, Williams recorded one of the songs that Payne taught him, "My Bucket's Got a Hole in It". Williams musical style contained influences from Payne along with several other country influences, among them "the Singing Brakeman" Jimmie Rodgers, Moon Mullican, and Roy Acuff. In 1937 Williams got into a fight with his physical education coach about exercises the coach wanted him to do. His mother subsequently demanded that the school board terminate the coach; when they refused, the family moved to Montgomery, Alabama. Payne and Williams lost touch, though eventually, Payne also moved to Montgomery, where he died in poverty in 1939. Williams later credited him as his only teacher.
Elonzo Huble Williams
Music Genre (Text)
Country, Western, honky-tonk, folk, blues, gospel
Drifting Cowboys, Audrey Williams