The Country Music Encyclopedia by Melvin Shestack

An excerpt from the Country Music Encyclopedia by Melvin Shestack including an entry on Hank Williams.

THE COUNTRY MUSIC ENCYCLOPEDIA. By Melvin Shestack. New York: Crowell, 1974.

About the book: Lots of friendly personal biographies and photos of stars and important figures in the world of country music. There are also discographies for all the artists included, as well as a listing of country radio stations and the words and music of a sampling of country favorites.


Every year a nominating committee selects from 10 to 20 candidates for the Country Music Hall of Fame. An electorate of 250 industry leaders (artists, executives, journalists, producers, etc.) then chooses one of the nominees as the new Hall of Fame member. The members are memorialized on bronze plaques, which are on public display at the Country Music Foundation's Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tenn.:

Fred Rose (songwriter and publisher) 1961

Jimmie Rodgers 1961

Hank Williams 1961

Roy Acuff 1962

Tex Ritter 1964

Ernest Tubb 1965

James Denny (executive) 1966

Eddy Arnold 1966

George D. Hay (executive) 1966

Uncle Dave Macon 1966

Jim Reeves 1967

J. L. (Joe) Frank (executive) 1967

Red Foley 1967

Steven C. Sholes (executive) 1967

Bob Wills 1968

Gene Autry 1969

Original Carter Family (Maybelle, A.P., and Sara) 1970

Bill Monroe 1970

Art Satherley (executive) 1971

Jimmy Davis 1972

Patsy Cline 1973

Chet Atkins 1973

Williams, Hank

Born: September 15, 1923, Georgiana, Ala.

Died: January 1, 1953, West Virginia

Married: w. Audrey Shepard (divorced) (s. Randall Hank: d. Lycrecia Ann); w. Billie Jean Jones

Hank Williams, an extraordinary artist, died on January 1, 1953, of "too much living, too much sorrow, too much love, too much drink, and drugs." He couldn't read or write music, but his 125 compositions include many classics of popular music. He was the 1st country musician and writer whose songs were eagerly grabbed by pop singers. The 20 years since his death haven't diminished his stature. Millions of his albums are still sold, and millions more will be sold.

Hank Williams was born in a 2-room log cabin to the poverty-stricken family of a shell-shocked veteran of W. W. I. When he was 7, his mother gave him a $3.50 guitar. His music lessons came from a black street singer who taught him while Hank shined shoes or sold peanuts on Montgomery street corners. When he was 12, he won a songwriting contest with "WPA Blues." With the $15 prize he decided to form a band, the Drifting Cowboys. (He had always dreamed, he said, of becoming a cowboy.) At 17, he tried rodeoing in Texas and was thrown from a horse, and back trouble plagued him all his life. He joined a medicine show, selling and singing, and met Audrey Shepard. After a stormy courtship, he married "Miss Audrey." Meanwhile, his reputation was growing. Ernest Tubb heard him and tried to get Grand Ole Opry to sign him on, but Williams' reputation as a "womanizing, hard-drinking wild man" preceded him, and Opry officials felt he'd be trouble. Louisiana Hayride had no such reservations and Hank joined the show.

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