Why Isn’t Hank In The Hall?
'You're good, but you're nowhere near as good as your Daddy was, boy'.
'Booooooo.......sing your Daddy's songs!'
'Sing it this way, son, like your Daddy did'.
How many times did a young Hank Williams, Jr. hear those words? Thousands, maybe more.
The story of Hank Williams, Jr. is well known, growing up in the shadow (perhaps it could be said the overwhelming shadow) of his legendary father. For years so difficult, nearly impossible, to keep the honor and love he felt for his Dad but to also create his own legacy, his own way.
Hank had several hit's in the 1960's, but his first #1 hit came in 1972 with the beautiful 'Eleven Roses'.
He followed 'Eleven Rose' with several more hits before the fall.
For those of us in Country Music all these years, that's what we call it...'The Fall'.
In August 1975 Hank very nearly died in a mountain fall in Montana. That, too, is well documented.
After that life altering event (and perhaps to a large degree because of it), Hank's career jettisoned to a whole new level.
It was 1979 and i was working at a Country station in Aberdeen, S.D. when I think I learned the story of Hank Williams, Jr. He told me that story through the lyrics of his #1 smash hit 'Family Tradition'.
But that, of course, was just the beginning of this 'new' Hank Williams Jr. I came to know. He followed that up with over 25 more Top Ten hits, some of which have become more than Classics....some have become themes, like the one below.
The numbers alone speak for themselves. Over five decades of hit singles, albums, concerts around the world. Millions of albums sold, millions of fans and.....oh yeah, one more thing.
Hank Williams Jr. did it his own way while still embracing the Father and family legacy he loved so much. I always thought part of the genius of Hank Jr. was his ability to distance himself from his Father while, at the same time, embracing and hugging him and his music. Perhaps the greatest compliment I could give Hank Jr. would be this:
Your Dad would be very proud of you.
It is high time (past time) that Hank Williams, Jr. is complimented, and honored with something he has earned all on his own: induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame so that he can stand proudly alongside side his Daddy and the other legends of Country Music.