Hank Williams Jr.
Top Ten Reasons To Love Hank Jr.
1. Heritage - The only son of country music’s first superstar, Hank Williams, Randall Hank Williams was born May 26, 1949, just one month before his father’s landmark Grand Ole Opry debut. Randall was only three years old when his father untimely died. Five years later, at the tender age of eight, he appeared on stage for the first time--adopting not only his father’s first name as his own, but also his songs, voice, and mannerisms.
2. Childhood Career - When 11, Hank Jr. debuted on the Grand Ole Opry. At age 14 he cut his first record, a rendition of his father’s "Long Gone Lonesome Blues," which became a hit. A year later he sang all the songs on the soundtrack of "Your Cheatin’ Heart," Hank Sr.’s film biography. At an age when most youngsters join the Boy Scouts or play Little League baseball, Hank Jr. learned the piano from Jerry Lee Lewis, appeared on the "Ed Sullivan Show," and performed before crowds of up to 20,000. In 1969 at Detroit’s Cobo Hall, Johnny Cash and he had the largest country show to date, and in 1970 he signed the biggest recording contract in the history of MGM Records.
3. Inner Demons - As proud as Hank Jr. was of his father’s legacy, he had grown tired of "cloning Hank" and wanted to create his own musical identity. In high school, as "Rockin’ Randall," he played contemporary rock, but he kept that part of him sequestered from his country fans. The split between what he wanted to do and what he was expected to do, along with alcohol and drug abuse, contributed to a downward spiral that lead him to attempt suicide in 1974.
4. Musical Rebirth - "You’ve been taught to act like, walk like, and talk like Hank Williams all your life, and if you don’t get your act together, you’re going to die like him too. Only you’ll get there long before he did." With the impact of his doctor’s prophetic statement, Hank Jr. set forth with grim determination to do one thing -- find and follow his own musical ideology. He packed up some belongings in a truck and drove to the Gulf Coast. Exploring Southern rock like the Allman Brothers and the old blues on men like John Lee Hooker, Hank Jr. experimented musically. Eventually, he found himself in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, a Southern Mecca for rockers. He rounded musicians like Dickie Betts and Toy Caldwell and recorded "Hank Williams Jr. and Friends," an album that embodied his music epiphany. Although critcially acclaimed by such publications as Rolling Stone and Village Voice, the album was less than successful commercially. The album did, however, launch Hank Jr. on a journey from which he was never wavered.
5. Perseverance - After finishing studio work on "Hank Williams Jr. and Friends," Hank Jr. unwound before is upcoming tour by vacationing in Montana. While mountain climbing with friends on Ajaz Mountain he took a 500 foot fall that split his head open, shattering his face and exposing his brain. His doctors claimed his new outlook apparent in his just-completed album helped pull him through the many operations necessary to repair the damage. With a good deal of reconstructive surgery yet to be done, Hank Jr. hit the road, taking his new vision to smaller clubs and building a new following, a coalition of younger country and rock fans who were at home with Z.Z.Top as well as George Jones.
6. Emergence - Hank Jr.’s musical instincts quickly led to phenomenal success. "Family Tradition" released in 1979 went gold and kicked off a long string of gold and platinum efforts. In October, 1982, he had nine albums on the Billboard music chart at the same time, a feat unequaled by any other living artist. Throughout the 80’s he produced classic hits like "A Country Boy Can Survive," "All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight," "Born To Boogie," and "Young Country;" he kicked off the 90’s with "Ain’t Nobody’s Business," "Good Friends, Good Whiskey, Good Lovin’," and "If It Will, It Will." He has received 16 songwriting honors from Broadcast Music, Inc., had 10 number one singles, 13 number one albums, 20 gold and five platinum albums, and a double platinum albums, and a double platinum album (Greatest Hits Vol. 1")
7. Acceptance - The Hank Williams Jr. who emerged in the 80’s was obviously enormously popular, but he failed to meet the expectations and wants of the country music hierarchy. Hank Jr. didn’t fit the image, and only years after his audience found him did the industry acknowledge him with its major awards. Once they started coming, however, they came in abundance, beginning in 1987 with the first of five straight Entertainer of the Year awards voted to him by peers and his first ever Grammy.
8. Concerts - In short, Hank Jr.’s road appearances are legendary. He doesn’t so much give concerts as throw parties with thousands of invitees sharing in the revelry. On stage, he embodies the Southern rocker but with an eclectic twist. He sings to celebrate the richness of America’s musical idioms and has recorded with the likes of Ray Charles, Willie Nelson, John Lee Hooker, Johnny Cash, Reba McEntire, Huey Lewis, Tom Petty, Waylon Jennings, Travis Tritt, George Jones, and George Thorogood. Hank Jr. pioneered the new standard for country music tours by making his shows not only an audio experience but a multi-million dollar visual spectacle rivaled only by the most extravagant rock n’ roll concerts.
9. Larger-than-Life Persona - Hank Jr. is not only familiar with country fans, but also to the millions who watch him perform the opening theme for ABC’s "Monday Night Football." As the composer of the theme, Hank Jr. won an Emmy for it in 1990, ‘91, ‘92, and ‘93, giving him the additional distinction of being the first country music artist ever to win an Emmy. After a brief hiatus from "Monday Night" in 1993, the public outcry for Hank Jr.’s return was so great that ABC subsequently signed him to an exclusive three year pact that will keep him asking the musical question, "Are you ready for some football?" before every Monday night game through the 1996-97 season.
10. His Legacy - When music historians reflect on country music in the 20th century, two names will undoubtedly stand prominent. Both names will by Williams: the father who created a legend and his son who carried it until forming his own formidable talent. Hank Williams Jr. blazed a path and opened doors for a whole new generation of platinum-selling country performers.
Birthplace: Shreveport, LA
Residence: Paris, TN & Victor, MT
Interests/Hobbies: Fishing, hunting, gun collecting
Favorite Food: Italian, Japanese, home cookin’
Instruments Played: Guitar, banjo, piano, keyboards, harmonica, fiddle, drums
First Public Appearance: Grand Ole Opry 1960
Promotions/Endorsements: ABC Monday Night Football
Career Achievements: 5 Entertainer of the Year Awards
10 #1 Singles
13 #1 Albums
20 Gold Albums