Legendary Hank Williams Born Part Four
Country and western of today, can’t beat of yesteryear, and with Legendary Hank Williams Born Part Four, you can hear it for yourself.
The American entry into World War II in 1941 marked the beginning of hard timesfor Williams. All his band members were drafted to serve in the military, while hegot a 4-F deferment from the military draft after falling from a bull during arodeo in Texas. Many of their replacements refused to continue playing in the bandbecause of Williams‘ worsening alcoholism. He continued to show up for his radioshow intoxicated, so in August 1942 radio station WSFA fired him for “habitualdrunkenness.“ During one of his concerts Williams met backstage his idol, Grand Ole Opry star Roy Acuff, who later warned him of the dangers of alcohol, saying,“You‘ve got a million-dollar talent, son, but a ten-cent brain.“
He worked for the rest of the war in a shipbuilding company in Mobile, Alabama, aswell as singing in bars for soldiers. In 1943 Williams met Audrey Sheppard on amedicine show in Banks, Alabama. Williams and Sheppard lived and worked togetherin Mobile, Sheppard later told Williams that she wanted to move to Montgomery withhim and start a band together and help him regain his radio show. The couple weremarried in 1944 in a Texaco Station in Andalusia, Alabama, by a justice of thepeace. The marriage was declared illegal, since Sheppard‘s divorce from herprevious husband did not comply with the legally required sixty-day trialreconciliation.
In 1945, when he was back in Montgomery, Williams started to perform again forradio station WSFA. He wrote songs weekly to perform during the shows. As a result of the new variety of his repertoire, Williams published his first song book,Original Songs of Hank Williams. The book only listed lyrics, since its mainpurpose was to attract more audience. It included ten songs: “Mother Is Gone“,“Won’t You Please Come Back“, “My Darling Baby Girl“ (with Audrey Sheppard),“Grandad‘s Musket“, “I Just Wish I Could Forget“, “Let‘s Turn Back the Years“,“Honkey-Tonkey“, “I Loved No One But You“, “A Tramp on the Street“, and “You‘llLove Me Again“. Williams became recognized as a songwriter, Sheppard became his manager and occasionally accompanied him on duets in some of his live concerts.
On September 14, 1946, Williams auditioned for Nashville‘s Grand Ole Opry but wasrejected. After the failure of his audition, Williams and Audrey Sheppard tried tointerest the recently formed music publishing firm Acuff-Rose Music. Williams andhis wife approached Fred Rose, the president of the company, during one of hishabitual ping-pong games at WSM radio studios. Audrey Williams asked Rose if herhusband could sing a song for him on that moment, Rose agreed, and he likedWilliams‘ musical style. Rose signed Williams to a six-song contract, andleveraged this deal to sign Williams with Sterling Records. On December 11, 1946,in his first recording session, he recorded “Wealth Won’t Save Your Soul“,“Calling You“, “Never Again (Will I Knock on Your Door)“, and “When God Comes andGathers His Jewels“. The recordings “Never Again“ and “Honky Tonkin‘“ became successful, and earned Williams the attention of MGM Records.
Williams signed with MGM Records in 1947 and released “Move It on Over“, whichbecame a massive country hit. In 1948 he moved to Shreveport, Louisiana, and hejoined the Louisiana Hayride, a radio show broadcast that propelled him intoliving rooms all over the southeast appearing on weekend shows. Williamseventually started to host a show on KWKH and started touring across westernLouisiana and eastern Texas, always returning on Saturdays for the weeklybroadcast of the Hayride. After a few more moderate hits, in 1949 he released hisversion of the 1922 Cliff Friend & Irving Mills song “Lovesick Blues“, madepopular by Rex Griffin. Williams‘ version became a huge country hit; the songstayed at number one on the Billboard charts over four consecutive months,crossing over to mainstream audiences and gaining Williams a place in the GrandOle Opry. On June 11, 1949, Williams made his debut at the Grand Ole Opry, wherehe became the first performer to receive six encores. He brought together BobMcNett (guitar), Hillous Butrum (bass), Jerry Rivers (fiddle) and Don Helms (steelguitar) to form the most famous version of the Drifting Cowboys, earning anestimated US$ 1,000 per show (equivalent to US$ 10,065.7 in 2017). That yearAudrey Williams gave birth to Randall Hank Williams (Hank Williams, Jr.). During 1949, he joined the first European tour of the Grand Ole Opry, performing in military bases in England, Germany and Azores. Williams released seven hit songsafter “Lovesick Blues“, including “Wedding Bells“,  “Mind Your Own Business“,“You‘re Gon na Change (Or I‘m Gon na Leave)“, and “My Bucket‘s Got a Hole in It“.