Personalities | Hank Williams | Roots of Rock

(Singer-songwriter, 1923–53)

Insofar as rock has been shaped by country music, it has been shaped by Hank Williams. Williams, a superstar at 25 and dead at 29, set standards for popular as well as country music, and was a virtual hit songwriting machine. Yet, like several young rock stars who followed him, he was unable to manage stardom and drifted into alcoholism and addiction.

Williams started out performing around his native Alabama. He landed a spot on a local radio station, and was signed to MGM Records by 1947. By 1951 his songs were being covered by the biggest mainstream artists, and Hank was appearing with them on stage and television to sing hits like ‘Your Cheatin’ Heart’, ‘Cold Cold Heart’, ‘Jambalaya’ and ‘Hey, Good Lookin’’. But his life and career collapsed after his divorce from his manager/wife Audrey, and he died in the back of his car in the early hours of New Year’s Day, 1953.

Styles & Forms | Roots of Rock
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Source: The Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock, general editor Michael Heatley


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