Hank Williams died in the earliest of the early morning of Jan. 1, 1953. Here’s how the Auburn Plainsman remembered him later that month.
By JoAnne Lucci
Hank Williams’ recent death left many Alabamians grieving.
The popular hillbilly singer, known as “The King of the Blues,” was considered one of the better song writers of the time with such hits as “Cold Cold Heart” and “Jambalaya” to his credit.
Dying young, he was only 29, Hank nevertheless left a world of songs and friends behind him. Stars from the Grand Ole Opry journeyed from Tennessee to Montgomery for his funeral.
Services were held in Montgomery’s large City Auditorium, and even then thousands of people jammed the streets outside because they were unable to get in the packed hall.
Not being a hillbilly music fan, we did not like all of Hank’s work, but we must admit that he seemed to be good enough for thousands upon thousands of rabid fans. These people, according to some radio announcers, called disk jockey programs to request his songs and often could be heard weeping over the telephone.
Without a doubt, some of those who jammed the City Auditorium for his funeral service were not admirers of Hank’s but merely curiosity-seekers hoping perhaps to see some [sic] the hillbilly stars attending it.
Nevertheless, the majority of [sic] crowd must have been sincere to stand in line for hours, as many of them did, just to get inside. For those unable to attend, the service was broadcast over a local station. Not in our memory has such a furor been cause by the death of a singer with the possible exception of the immortal Al Jolson, who was more than just a singer in our opinion.
Possibly Hank’s passing caused such general sorrow because not only was he a local boy who rose to fame from a lowly start of selling peanuts and shining shoes on Montgomery streets, but because, as The Montgomery Advertiser said, he brought happiness to many through his music.
We want to present Hank, the songster of the common man, with a belated wreath of Tiger Lillies, not because we admired him in particular, but because of the enjoyment he gave to millions who appreciate his type of music.
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The top pic is from the Alexander City jail I think.
The late Paul Hemphill, an AU grad, wrote a great book about Hank called Lovesick Blues.
Hank was good, but he was no Al Jolson.
I know Joanne – she’s a hoot and still writing about Auburn – love it!!
Maybe fanboys should write obits. It could then be edited by someone who doesn’t think the deceased approaches the great Al Jolson.
In comparison, here’s the Michael Jackson piece The Plainsman ran two years ago: