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Hank Williams Jr.

The offspring of famous musicians often have a hard time creating a career for themselves, yet Hank Williams, Jr. is one of the few to develop a career that is not only successful, but markedly different from his legendary father. Originally, Hank Jr. simply copied and played his father's music, but as he grew older, he began to carve out his own niche and it was one that owed as much to country-rock as it did to honky tonk. In the late '70s, he retooled his image to appeal both to outlaw country fans and rowdy Southern rockers, and his makeover worked, resulting in a string of Top Ten singles -- including the number one hits "Texas Women," "Dixie on My Mind," "All My Rowdy Friends (Have Settled Down)," "Honky Tonkin'," and "Born to Boogie" -- that ran into the late '80s.

Hank Jr. never was above capitalizing on his father's name, yet his tributes and name-dropping often seemed affectionate, not crass. Also, Bocephus -- as his father nicknamed him when he was a child -- was a passionate cheerleader for patriotic American values; he even wrote a pro-Gulf War song during 1991. All of these actions helped make him an American superstar during the '80s, becoming one of the most recognizable popular culture figures of the era. As new country took over the airwaves in the '90s, Williams slowly disappeared from the charts and his concerts stopped selling as well as they did ten years earlier, yet he retained a devoted core audience throughout the decade.

The son of Hank and Audrey Williams, Hank Jr. was born in Shreveport, LA, in 1949. Less than four years later, his father died, leaving behind a huge legacy. When Hank Jr. was eight years old, Audrey decided to push her son into the spotlight, positioning him as the rightful heir to his father's legacy. Dressed in a white Nudie suit, he would sing Hank Sr.'s biggest hits on package tours, and by the time he was 11, he had made his first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. After a few years of touring, Hank Jr.'s voice broke in 1963. As soon as his voice changed, Audrey had her son sign a contract with MGM Records.

Hank Jr. recorded his father's "Long Gone Lonesome Blues" as his debut single, and the record was a hit upon its early 1964 release, climbing to number five. Later that year, he sang all the material for the Hank Williams, Sr. biopic Your Cheatin' Heart and starred in the film A Time to Sing. Though he immediately had a hit, he wasn't able to follow it up with another Top Ten hit until 1966, when his self-penned "Standing in the Shadows" reached number five. By that time, he had begun to grow tired of his reputation as a Hank Williams imitator and was trying to create his own style, as "Standing in the Shadows" proved. Following that single, he began to explore rock & roll somewhat, occasionally performing under the name Rockin' Randall.

Despite his half-hearted rock & roll attempts, Williams continued to concentrate on country music, turning out a string of hit singles, including the number one "All for the Love of Sunshine" and a number of inspirational cuts released under the name Luke the Drifter, Jr., a reference to his father's alter ego. Though his career was doing well, Hank Jr. began falling into drug and alcohol abuse after he turned 18 years old. His personal life became progressively more complicated, culminating in a suicide attempt in 1974. Following the attempt, Williams moved to Alabama, where he not only got his life together, but he changed his musical direction as well. Hooking up with Southern rockers like Charlie Daniels and the Marshall Tucker Band's Toy Caldwell, he recorded Hank Williams, Jr. & Friends, which fused hardcore country with rock & roll. Though he wasn't scoring as many hits as he had in the early '70s, his music was becoming more original and focused.

Just as his career was being revived, tragedy beset Williams. While he was climbing a mountain in Montana in 1975, he fell 442 feet down the side of the mountain. His injuries were serious -- his skull was split and his face was crushed -- but he survived. Following extensive reconstructive cosmetic surgery, he had to relearn how to speak and sing. Williams' recovery period lasted a full two years. When he re-emerged in 1977, he aligned himself the outlaw country movement, as Waylon Jennings produced Hank Jr.'s comeback effort, The New South. It took several years before Williams began to have hits again -- his biggest hit in the late '70s was a cover of Bobby Fuller's "I Fought the Law," which reached number 15 -- but in the final six months of 1979, he had two Top Ten singles, "Family Tradition" and "Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound," which began a virtually uninterrupted streak of 29 Top Ten hits that ran into 1988.

Throughout the '80s, Hank Jr. was one of the most popular, and controversial, figures in country music. Following his image makeover, he appealed primarily to young and rowdy crowds with his hell-raising anthems and jingoistic ballads. Though he had established his own distinctive style, he continued to name-check and pay tribute to his father, and these salutes became as much a part of his act as his redneck rockers. Both the wild music and the party-ready atmosphere of his concerts made Hank Jr. an immensely popular musician and helped him crossover into the rock & roll audience. Williams' career really began to take off in 1981, when he had three number one hits -- "Texas Women," "Dixie on My Mind," and "All My Rowdy Friends (Have Settled Down)" -- and Rowdy began a streak of 15 gold or platinum albums that ran until 1990. During that time, he won several awards, including back-to-back Country Music Association Entertainer of the Year in 1987 and 1988.

By the end of the decade, Hank Jr.'s persona was becoming a little tired, especially in light of the new breed of clean-cut new country singers who had taken over Nashville. Williams could still have a hit -- such as "There's a Tear in My Beer," which was an electronic duet between him and his father -- but by the end of 1990, he was no longer hitting the Top Ten and by the middle of the decade he had trouble reaching the Top 40. Despite his declining record sales, Hank Jr. remained a popular concert draw into the latter half of the '90s, as well as a relatively prolific character in the studio. His string of new albums tapered off in the early 2000s, with 2003's I'm One of You marking his final album for several years. Hank Jr. returned toward the decade's end, however, with 127 Rose Avenue appearing in 2009. 2012's Old School New Rules, which featured guest appearances by Brad Paisley and Trace Adkins, was the first release for Williams on his own Bocephus Records, an independent label based in Nashville, and marked how much Williams had taken over control of all aspects of his work and career. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: A Country Boy Can Survive [Single]

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Track List: Angels Are Hard To Find (From The Motion Picture "Gravity") (Single)

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Track List: I'm Gonna Get Drunk And Play Hank Williams (Single)

Comments

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DON'T MESS WITH MY FLAG! What would Hank Think?
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Hell grew up listen'n to Bocephus
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Mike Alaniz- moved to colstrip Montana in 1975 from East Los Angeles,Got introduced to hank and Country boy ,Jim Beam,not in that order got embedded in my soul , In 77 went back to the hood and interduced hank to east los angeles.WOW- I cranked his sh t it up.STILL DO
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America will survive all we need is a sh it load of country. Boys
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So f*cking badass
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! 6gv vy g6
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U got to lessen to some hank
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Used to love to drink whiskey and ride the roads in my old truck and blast some hank jr...the mfm
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Hank tells A great Story Pure Country Cowboy Sanging
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Bocephus you are number one of all times Greatest!!!!
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dvoelkel99
Bocephus, you are a legend!
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Love'em all time greatest
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The greatest of them all
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Bartender song. What. A song been there
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All time greatest
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gemeterio62
O'D in Denver
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Outlaw Women, I like Hanks tone of voice
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ednalee02 You must be too young to remember him. He was huge in the early '80s during the big surge in the popularity of country music.
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Couple are better, none of 'em sing.
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Ain't nobody better than Hank Jr
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WHAT THE HECK I LOVE THIS GUY HOW DID I NEVER NOTICE HIM
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Hank williams jr your music is the best
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Country state of mind. Oh. Yell
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I agree with this song. I love anything by Hank.
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t_heath
The Blues Man is awesome!!!!!
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The American way. Great song.
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I saw The Hook in Missoula, Montana in a small conference room. I could smell him. He had on the same shoes as in the "Hooker&Heat " cover. They were (as usual) his rhythm section
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@A



A P ..,l
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Done gone an broke the family tradition!
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I am going to his concert on july 10, a northern qwest casino. SO EXCITED!!!
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Love so cool
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best song
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im 15 and was rased hank williams jr
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Whiskey Bent And Hell Bound ............ . . . . The best song by Hank Williams Jr.
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Don't read this because this actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life. However if you don't post this you will be injured in two days now you started reading this so don't stop. Post this on at least 5 songs in the next 143 minutes when your done press f6 and your lovers name will appear on the screen with big letter this is so scary because it actually works
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I listend to hank him and hes dady where the only thing my dad would play
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I was born in 73 and I listened to Hank for as long as I can remember. From 11 roses to red, white and pink slip blues.. From Dinosaur to the country boy anthem A country boy can survive.. Hank didn't die out, his music doesn't lack in no way, Nashville does.. Pop country sucks, remanufactur e d music sucks... Today, there is nothing country about country music!!!
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WE THEM BOYS RAISED ON SHOTGUNS!!
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Mmmmmm...GOO D !
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If heaven ain't a lot like
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logsdongroup
Hank is one of us....just wish I could share a bottle with him. Nothing but respect here...
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I love all your songs hank williams jr
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I LOVED seeing him at the NRA concert in Nashville. He can still rock it. I saw him in '89 in Roanoke, Va. Yikes. I am getting older...
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Hank Jr what else needs to be said . my only problem is if its not about the singer or the song why post it who gives a crap

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i just declared war on FLG and Jason aldean,Luke Bryan fans
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I kind of like him. But I am 10 so I like new today's country (good music!)
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Love hank Williams
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The man
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America will survive. Just roll out. The Rednecks and hillbillies and look the_ ____ out we will. Win! !!!!!!!!
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Real music.
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