25 Honky Tonk Facts About Hank Williams, The Hillbilly Shakespeare

Hank Williams is a star equally remembered for his important contributions to music and his tragic lifestyle. With countless hit songs under his belt and a huge list of artists he’s inspired, it’s undeniable that Williams is not only one of the most important country artists of all time, but one of the most important musicians period. But success didn’t come easy for Williams, and his life was wrought with hardships, from endless spine pain to a dangerous love of the bottle. In many ways, his story is as tragic as it is inspiring. Here are 25 facts about Hillbilly Shakespeare himself, Hank Williams.

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1. The Golden Boy

35 of Hank Williams’ singles reached the Top 10 Billboard Country & Western charts. 11 of those reached number one. Most musicians can only dream of that sort of success!

2. Learning the Blues

Williams learned the guitar from African American blues musician Rufus “Tee Tot” Payne, who he would pay in money and food. Payne’s influence can be heard across Williams’ discography, especially his later recordings. Payne never saw the same level of success, however, and died penniless. His importance in Williams’ story means he will always be remembered, though.

3. Too Cool for School

Williams dropped out of school at the age of 16 to pursue his music career, a choice he probably never regretted.

4. From Tragedy Comes Greatness

Williams did not come from a particularly well-off family. His father worked for a lumber company and the two didn’t get along very well. His mother ran rooming houses. To make matters worse, Williams suffered from spina bifida as a kid, which opened him up to ridicule from the other kids.

5. Old Enough to Rock

Williams made his first appearance on the radio at 13 and his musical career only exploded from there. What were you doing at 13?

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