Born in Butler County, Alabama in 1923, Hank Williams had quite the impact on country music in his short 29 years, as both a songwriter and a vocalist. He recorded 35 singles that reached the top ten of the country Billboard charts, including 11 number one hits.
From an early age, Williams was mentored by Rufus "Tee Tot" Payne, an African-American blues musician from Alabama. Williams' son, country musician Hank Williams Jr., would later pay tribute to Rufus Payne on "The Tee Tot Song."
In 1948, Williams made his debut on the Louisiana Hayride. One year later, he made his debut on the Grand Ole Opry.
Hank Williams died on New Years Day in 1953 in the backseat of his Cadillac. His funeral drew 20,000 mourners and fans from 35 states came to pay their respects, according to al.com. Williams' band, the Drifting Cowboys, as well as country artists Roy Acuff, Ernest Tubb, June Carter and Bill Monroe were in attendance.
Williams is buried in Montgomery, Alabama.
Known as the Hillbilly Shakespeare, Hank Williams Sr. is an American country music legend and his honky-tonk blues speak for themselves. Along with Fred Rose and Jimmie Rodgers, Williams was one of the first inductees of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Though there are a ton of quality choices, these are our picks for the best ten Hank Williams songs, ranked.
10. "Cold, Cold Heart"
This honky-tonk blues ballad was released in 1950 on the b-side of "Dear John," a more upbeat number. While "Dear John" peaked at number eight on the Billboard chart, "Cold, Cold Heart" hit number one.
9. "Move It On Over"
This 1947 hit from Williams is considered one of the earliest examples of a rock song. It was recorded in Williams's first MGM recording session and was his first hit on the Billboard chart.
8. "Jambalaya (On the Bayou)"
A classic Williams-penned tune, "Jambalaya (On the Bayou)" was released in 1952 and is one of the country legend's most covered songs.
7. "Moanin' the Blues"
This catchy tune was Williams's fourth number one hit with MGM in 1950. This song is one of only two where the singer is also featured on the drums (the other is "Kaw-Liga").
6. "Ramblin' Man"
This 1953 song was released as the B-side to "Take These Chains from My Heart," and the 1976 re-release of "Why Don't You Love Me." The song features Williams signature yodel with some simple back up instruments, including the guitar and fiddle.
5. "Your Cheatin' Heart"
Widely considered one of the greatest country songs of all time, Williams was inspired to write this song after his wife (soon to be ex) Audrey, who he claimed had a "cheatin' heart." This song is the definition of country music and sets the standard today.
4. "I Saw the Light"
This country gospel song was written and recorded by Williams in 1948 after he and his wife Audrey Williams were able to lock down a contract with MGM Records. He was initially rejected by the Grand Ole Opry after his audition, but after a few early hits like this one with MGM, his career started to take off.
3. "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry"
Williams recorded the song in 1949, backed by members of the Pleasant Valley Boys. The melancholy ballad reached number four on the charts and remains one of his most recognizable ballads. It was released on the B-side of "My Bucket's Got a Hole In It" because the upbeat-tempo songs were considered an easier sell.
2. "Hey Good Lookin'"
Written and recorded by Williams in 1951, this song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2001.
1. "Lovesick Blues"
I can't help it; this is my favorite song by Williams. It was originally recorded by Emmett Miller, but after Williams released the song in 1949 it was hugely successful, and he was invited to sing at the Grand Ole Opry. After performing "Lovesick Blues," he received a standing ovation, and this became his signature song.
Honorable mentions: "Long Gone Lonesome Blues," "Half as Much," "Honky Tonkin", "I'm Still in Love with You," "There's a Tear in My Beer," "Settin' the Woods on Fire," "I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive," "Mind Your Own Business," "Lost Highway," "You Win Again," "(I Heard That) Lonesome Whistle," and "Howlin' at the Moon"
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