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Hank Williams Jr.
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Hank Williams Jr.

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The son and namesake of country music pioneer Hank Williams, Hank Williams Jr.'s style combined country with Southern rock and blues.

Who Is Hank Williams Jr.?

Hank Williams Jr. was performing his father, Hank Sr.'s, songs on stage at age 8. In the 1970s, he created his own musical identity, combining country with Southern rock and blues. Williams was severely injured in a mountain-climbing accident in 1975. He spent two years recovering from his injuries. By the 1980s, Williams had become one of country music's top performers. He had several multi-platinum albums during his career. In 2012, he released Old School New Rules.

Early Life

Williams was born Randall Hank Williams on May 26, 1949, in Shreveport, Louisiana. The son and namesake of country music pioneer Hank Williams, Williams was just three when his father died. His mother Audrey soon led him into becoming a country performer like his father. "Other kids could play cowboys and Indians and imagine they'd grow up to be cowboys," he wrote on his website. "I couldn't do that ... I knew I'd grow up to be a singer. That's all there ever was, the only option, from the beginning."

Williams made his stage debut at the age of 8 and his first appearance at Nashville's famed Grand Ole Opry at age 11. At age 15, Williams had his first Top 5 hit on the country charts with a cover of his father's song, "Long Gone Lonesome Blues." He performed throughout his teens to sold-out crowds and on national television, carrying on his father's legacy through music. Before long, however, Williams got caught in the wild lifestyle on the road, drinking and taking pills.

Country Music Star

During a particularly low time in his life, William attempted suicide in 1974. He managed to turn his life around and worked on creating his own musical identity that combined country with Southern rock and blues.. The resulting sound debuted in the 1975 album Hank Williams Jr. and Friends. That year, Williams was severely injured in a mountain-climbing accident in Montana, and it would take two years and several major surgeries to reconstruct his face. The accident resulted in Williams's new trademark look, which included a full beard, cowboy hat and dark glasses.

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In the 1980s, Williams catapulted to stardom with several multi-platinum albums and dozens of chart-topping singles, including "Family Tradition," "Texas Women" and "Born to Boogie." He won the Country Music Association's Award for entertainer of the year in 1987 and '88, and a Grammy Award in 1989 for a duet with his father's recorded vocals called "There's a Tear in My Beer." In 1989, Williams began his long association with ABC's Monday Night Football. He retooled his song "All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight" for the program, and the new theme song earned Williams four Emmy Awards.

In 2011, Monday Night Football and Williams cut ties with each other after some remarks he made about President Barack Obama. Williams appeared on FOX News' Fox & Friends and compared Obama to Adolf Hitler in his comments on the show. In the wake of this incident, he revised his song "Keep the Change" to address the issue. Williams added some new lyrics, including "So Fox & Friends/Wanna put me down/Ask for my opinion/Then twist it all around."

The following year, Williams released his next album Old School, New Rules on his independent label called Bocephus Records after his childhood nickname. He expressed his political frustrations with the track "Takin' Back the Country." The album also featured a duet with Brad Paisley, "I'm Gonna Get Drunk and Play Hank Williams," and an appearance by Merle Haggard on a cover of his song, "I Think I'll Just Stay Here and Drink." Williams has toured extensively in support of this latest release.

Personal Life

Williams was married to Gwen Yeargain until 1977. The couple had one son together, Shelton Hank Williams, who performs as Hank III. With his second wife, Becky White, Williams has two daughters, Holly and Hilary. Both daughters are involved in the music business, as well. In 1990, Williams married for the third time. He and Mary Jane Thomas have two children, Katherine and Samuel, together. The pair separated in 2007, but later reconciled. Katherine was tragically killed in a car crash in June 2020.

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