On September 17, 1923, country music star Hiram “Hank” Williams was born in Butler County.
Williams was one of the most influential country artists of the 20th century. He recorded 55 singles which were Billboard Country & Western Best Sellers, 12 of which were number ones.
Williams has been dubbed “the king of country music”.
His famous songs include lonely tunes such as “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”, “There’s a tear in my beer” and “Your Cheatin’ Heart”, as well as other songs like “Hey Good Lookin” and “Jambalaya (On the Bayou).
Williams suffered from spina bifida occulta, a birth defect of the spine that would plague him with pain for the rest of his life.
Her father suffered a brain aneurysm and was absent for most of her childhood. Williams and her mother, Lillie, moved around frequently. In 1934, they moved to Greenville, then to Garland in 1935.
They then moved to Georgiana, where a festival is held in Williams’ honor each May.
Williams paid Greenville blues musician Rufus “Tee Tot” Payne food and money for guitar lessons as a child.
In 1937, he was hired by a local radio station to perform and host his own 15-minute show. The show was a hit, with listeners contacting the station asking for more “the singing child”.
During World War II, Williams was medically disqualified from military service after injuring his back falling from a bull at a rodeo. Williams worked for a shipbuilding company in Mobile, where he met Audrey Sheppard. The two married in Andalusia.
In 1949, Sheppard gave birth to Hank Williams Jr., who has since pursued his own musical career.
Williams suffered from severe alcoholism throughout his life and was fired from the Grand Ole Opry in 1952 for habitual drunkenness. Williams also had problems with morphine and other painkillers prescribed to her for her spina bifida occulta disease.
Also, in 1952, Williams divorced Sheppard and married Billie Jean Jones.
On New Year’s Eve that year, Williams consumed a combination of chloral hydrate and alcohol. When he started experiencing unwanted side effects, his doctor injected him with vitamin B12, which also contained a quarter grain of morphine.
Williams died hours after New Years 1953 on his way to a concert in Canton, Ohio. He was only 29 years old.
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