Friday, January 7, 2011
A number of notable figures have had their lives cut short by drugs and alcohol and this week we celebrate the 58th anniversary of the death of one of music's greatest country performers. 58 years ago Hank Williams Sr. died from a combination of alcohol and morphine at the young age of 29 at the peak of his career. Country music fans across the country mourned his death like no other before him; even people who did not care for country knew that Hank's death was a tragedy. Williams' music spoke to people in a way that anyone who had known sorrow or heartbreak could relate to.
In 1949, he made his Grand Ole Opry debut, performing “Lovesick Blues.” No one could have ever imagined that Williams would receive an unprecedented six encores. In between Hank's commercial successes, he began recording a series of recitations with spiritual and philosophical content under the name “Luke the Drifter.” Those included “Men with Broken Hearts” and “Be Careful of Stones That You Throw.” Despite being intoxicated all the time Williams was able to produce some of the greatest hits country music would ever see.
Alcoholism cost Williams his first marriage, after the divorce it was said that he never blew a sober breath again. A bogus doctor was keeping Williams high with morphine mixed with vitamin B12 injections, the combination of that with binge drinking was too much for Hank to handle and he stopped breathing and died in the back seat of a car. Sadly, before Hank died the Grand Ole Opry told Williams to clean up his act or he would not be able to play there again; Hank died before he had a chance to do that.
Alcoholism and drug addiction have the power to ruin lives and cut them short without anyone seeing it coming. It is hard to imagine how deep Williams' catalog would be if he had not passed away 58 years ago. Fortunately, Hank left us with over 40 amazing hits that will never be over played. Hank Williams has still not been reinstated to the Grand Ole Opry.