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Hank Williams

Biography

When Hank Williams died at the age of 29, he was already a legendary figure whose legacy would only get larger as his place in the canon of American popular song and popular culture became cemented. Williams grew up in Alabama where he first performed with The Drifting Cowboys as a teenager. The band's regional popularity led his working as a songwriter for Nashville publisher Fred Rose. His first release on MGM Records, "Move It on Over," was a hit. From there Williams meteorically ascended to the top of the Country music heap. He is best known for his nakedly emotional, blues-drenched singing, and stripped down version of proto-Honky Tonk featuring kinetic interplay between the steel guitar and fiddle. A versatile writer, Williams penned Gospel songs like "I Saw the Light," dance numbers ("Jambalaya," "Hey Good Lookin'"), as well as those that evoked loneliness, despair, and betrayal ("Cold Cold Heart," "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry"). His direct, stark lyrics made even up-tempo, seemingly lightweight songs take on an undercurrent of foreboding. Towards the end of his young life, Williams sank deeper and deeper into drug and alcohol abuse. Many who idolized him would emulate this aspect of his life. His "live fast, die young" mythology leaves almost as wide a wake as his music -- he died in the back of a limousine on the way to a gig in 1953.
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