Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music



(b Randall Hank Williams, 26 May 1949, Shreveport LA) Country singer, guitarist, songwriter; grew up in Nashville; son of country's music's greatest superstar, who nicknamed him him Bocephus. He overcame his famous name with well over 80 hits in the Billboard country chart in less than 25 years (including duets), more than half in the top ten, ten at no. 1. During high school he excelled in sports and became a health fanatic; toured with his mother Audrey in her Caravan of Stars show '62-4 and signed a contract with MGM, moulded by the elder statesmen of Nashville as a second Hank Williams; sang Hank's songs included in the soundtrack of the biopic Your Cheatin' Heart '64 and crossing to the pop chart with 'Long Gone Lonesome Blues' '64. He began writing his own songs and scored minor hits, but the public demanded endless replays of Hank Sr's songs; he finally made the top 20 several times late '60s and no. 1 '70 with 'All For The Love Of Sunshine'. He also recorded narrations in his father's style using the same name of Luke The Drifter '69-70. He duetted with Lois Johnson for hits including 'So Sad (To Watch Good Love Go Bad)', 'Send Me Some Lovin''.

He broke from the Nashville elite '74, moved to Alabama and with the help of old friend James R. Smith began work on a sound of his own: album Hank Williams Jr And Friends included country-rock musicians Charlie Daniels, Toy Caldwell of the Marshall Tucker Band, ex-Allman Bros Chuck Leavell; just before its release he literally fell down a mountain on a hunting trip, suffered appalling head injuries, and was almost two years on the mend. 'Stoned At The Jukebox' '75 from the new album went top 20, 'Living Proof' '76 made top 40. He joined WB, had only minor hits at first but slowly climbed the charts on his own terms with a gritty, rock-based country sound, returning to top 20 with 'I Fought The Law' '78; moved to Elektra, made the top five with 'Family Tradition' and 'Whiskey Bent And Hell Bound' '79 and didn't look back: teamed with Waylon Jennings for 'The Conversation' '80, he had number one hits 'Women I've Never Had' and 'Old Habits' '80, 'Texas Woman' and 'All My Rowdy Friends' '81, 'A Country Boy Can Survive' and 'Honky Tonkin'' '82, 'Leave Them Boys Alone' and 'Queen Of My Heart' '83, and had eight albums in the Billboard chart at once.

He duetted with Ray Charles on 'Two Old Cats Like Us' '85, had solo hits 'Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way' (an implied criticism of the slick 'countrypolitan' Nashville style) and 'Ain't Misbehavin' ' '86, 'Mind Your Own Business' '87; album Hank 'Live' '87 sold half a million copies without a single to help it. After selling 13m albums he was named Entertainer of the Year by the CMA '87, and said, 'This is the one old Bocephus has been looking for.' He won that award again the following year, and cut 'Young Country' for a no. 2 hit, with Steve Earle, Keith Whitley, Marty Stuart and several others in the chorus, acknowledging the up-and-comers who ironically soon pushed him off the charts. Radio stopped playing his records in the '90s; he moved to Capricorn, then back to Curb, continued a heavy touring schedule.

He is unusual among country artists in that his albums kept selling in their original formats: 40 of his albums were listed in Schwann '97 including The New South '78, Family Tradition and Whiskey Bent And Hell Bound '79, Habits Old And New '80, Rowdy and The Pressure Is On '81, High Notes '82, Strong Stuff and Man Of Steel '83, Five-O '85, Born To Boogie and Hank 'Live' '87, all reissued on CD without changing a single track. Wild Streak '88 was another mix of country rock and straight country, the latter compared to George Jones at his best. Compilations included three-CD sets Living Proof: The MGM Recordings 1963-1975 and The Bocephus Box, 1979-92 tracks including duets with Jennings, Charles and Clint Black. He duetted with his father's newly-discovered acetate of Hank Sr singing 'There's A Tear In My Beer' '89 for an award-winning single and video; Back To Back: Like Father, Like Son on K-Tel included duets with his father. More albums were Maverick '92, Out Of Left Field '93, Hog Wild '95; he duetted with his father on record again, making it a trio with his own son Hank III for album Three Hanks: Men With Broken Hearts, and a new solo album was Wham Bam Sam aka Houston, We Have A Problem, both '96.

Hank III (b Shelton Hank Williams, 12 December 1972) was becoming an interesting country punk, respecting the tradition one night and being as raunchy and insulting as possible the next. On Friday 17 August 2012, with an audience of over 8,000 people at the Iowa State Fair, Hank Williams Jr. announced, “We’ve got a Muslim president who hates farming, hates the military, hates the U.S., and we hate him!” The family can't stop making headlines.