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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Hank Williams Receives Pulitzer

Hank Williams Sr. was a man who revolutionized music in the late 1930's into the early 50's. Hank Williams helped make the Grand Ole Opry what it is today and he has got very little recognition for it because of his addiction that he battled right up until his death. Hank Williams died in Jan 1953, the doctor who performed the autopsy noted needle marks in Williams' arms, bruises on various parts of the body, a welt on his forehead and hemorrhages in the heart and neck. The official cause of death was attributed to acute right ventricular dilation, which basically means that the heart just stopped beating. The report only showed alcohol in Williams' blood stream; however, it is believed that the doctor did not test for any drugs. At the time of Hank Williams' death, he was taking morphine shots for constant back pain after major surgery the year before (he suffered from spina bifida); Hank was also ingesting a dangerous sedative, chloral hydrate, which is so strong it will put elephants to sleep.

On August 11, 1952, Williams was fired from the Grand Ole Opry because of his addiction. Hank was told not to return until he was sober, he instead rejoined Louisiana Hayride a band he had worked with in the past. Nevertheless, soon after, the Drifting Cowboys decided to part ways with Williams because Williams was drinking more than the shows would pay. Hank Williams would die before he ever had a chance to clean up his act and be reinstated at the Grand Ole Opry. The fact that Hank has, to this day, not been reinstated has a lot of people upset, Hank was the greatest country musician of all time and he gets very little respect because he died in his addiction. Countless rock n' roll stars die while under the influence and the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame still permits admittance.

Hank Williams finally received a little credit today when the Pulitzer board awarded the late singer for his lifetime achievement, based on a confidential survey of experts in popular music. "The citation notes Williams' 'craftsmanship as a songwriter' and his 'pivotal role in transforming country music into a major musical and cultural force in American life.' He joins other recent special citation recipients Bob Dylan, Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane on a short list of American masters", according to the AP. Hank Williams' life was one marred by tragedy and tragedy has followed Hank even after his death. Hank died at the age of 29, leaving the world with so many amazing songs that will influence people for generations to come; but, Hank was also an addict who suffered to his very last day, maybe it is time we let him rest and give him the credit he is due.

Here is some of the last recorded footage of Hank Williams in 1952; it starts with the Carter Family, some Tennessee square dancing, and then Hank. Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. i 've been an LVN for twenty - five years, now ; and, i would like to say something about the general population 's spirit of condemnation for this poor man who was born with spina bifada . . . . . WHERE IS YOUR COMPASSION ? ? ? laura " lolly "

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