Hank Williams died on New Year’s Day 1953, Montgomery funeral drew 20,000 mourners

Hank Williams
This was the scene in Montgomery’s Municipal Auditorium Jan. 4, 1953.

Hank Williams, the 29-year-old King of Country Music, was to have flown to Charleston, West Virginia for a New Year’s Eve concert but an ice storm near Nashville kept him away.


Instead, the Georgiana native hired a college student, Charles Carr, to drive him to perform a concert planned in Canton, Ohio. Instead, Williams died 67 years ago, on Jan. 1, 1953.

Long plagued by alcoholism, Williams fell ill at the Andrew Johnson Hotel in Knoxville on the last night of 1952. A doctor injected Williams with B12 and morphine and porters carried the legendary singer-songwriter to the car.
Carr drove through the night as Williams declined his offer to stop for food. Stopping for gas in Oak Hill, West Virginia, Carr realized Williams was dead.

Police found empty beer cans and unfinished song lyrics in the Cadillac where Williams died.
As people across his native Alabama picked up their morning newspapers that first morning of 1953, they were greeted with the tragic news Williams had died.

“He was dead on arrival at an Oak Hill hospital,” the front page of The Alabama Journal read.

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