Hank Jr was born on May 26, 1949 in Louisiana to Hank Williams Sr and his wife, Audrey. His father loved him very much, and nicknamed him Bocephus. However, Hank Sr but had a drinking and drug problem that eventually killed him. His dad only lived to age 29, dying on New Year’s Day in 1953, when Hank Jr was just a toddler. His mom, Audrey Williams, started encouraging him to play the guitar and to sing. He learned to sing gospel music and his dad’s songs. When he was eight, he made his first of many public performances and then at age 11 was welcomed on stage at the Grand Ole Opry. He didn’t have time to play games with the other kids, and while he might have regretted it then, those same boys are probably some of his biggest fans. I know I would be!
Anyway, about four and a half years after his father passed away (and Hank Sr, being the father of this great legend, had some wonderful classics himself), Hank Jr started singing his dad’s songs. At the Grand Ole Opry, where he sang for the first time when he was 11, he again sang his dad’s songs. When he was about 14, he signed a contract with MGM and started to re-record his dad’s classics.
After a few years of that, Hank Jr started trying to record his own stuff, which a few people liked, but he often was told that he should play his daddy’s songs, or that he should only sing like his father would have. He was determined to not remain a Hank Williams imitator or impersonator. He wanted his own fame and his own success.
He wanted to remember his dad through his music and not detract from his dad’s fame, but still embrace it as he reached for his own style. Many believe he has done this, and set a new standard for country music. He wrote most of his own songs, which many did not do back when this was taking place, and he met a bit of opposition, but the lyrics rang true and people soon were buying his albums so much that he was on the top ten charts more often than he wasn’t. When his influence died down a bit a few decades ago, he kept quite a few fans, like me, but country music has changed. I don’t believe it is better without his influence. I think we should get more of the younger people involved in his music instead of the new age country that is so popular today.
When he was a child, he learned all of his dad’s songs, and could sing each one by heart. This prepared him for singing his own songs, written himself, that relate so well to so many of us Americans. He wasn’t just raised to be his dad’s legacy and son, but also to be an All-American man, and his music shows this many times. He is, and always has been, very patriotic. On top of being patriotic, he has fans from the rock and roll crowd, the country lovers base and the rednecks. He loves the music made by other singers and doesn’t get into the drama that so many in Hollywood end up in. Hank Jr is an all around nice guy and a patriotic one, too. We need more young men like him coming up in country music.