Why Isn’t Hank Williams Jr. In the Country Music Hall of Fame?
If you took a sip of beer for every country song that name-checks Hank Williams Jr., you'd be drunk within an hour. The outlaw is one of country music's most influential artists, with a long legacy of hits and awards. So why isn't he in the Country Music Hall of Fame? That's the focus of this week's episode of The Secret History of Country Music.
The "Family Tradition" singer's career goes back much further than most people under 30 realize. Williams was performing, recording and turning out hits in the 1960s and 1970s — his first solo chart-topper was an orchestral ballad as sweet as he is surly today. "Eleven Roses" finds a man telling a woman she needs to look in the mirror to find the rose that completes the dozen. Go ahead and say it .... Aww!
Early on Hank Jr. was singing his father's songs for fame and glory, but around the time of his famous fall from Ajex Peak in Montana he was transitioning into the man we know today. "Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound," "All My Rowdy Friends," "A Country Boy Can Survive" and "Born to Boogie" were all hits after his face was repaired from a 400-foot fall. The now-bearded country singer was a reborn rabble-rouser that cared very little what the institution thought of him. Some believe he'd have won more than five combined Entertainer of the Year awards if he'd played the game a little better. Then again, it's difficult to get a man to change when he's sold 70 million albums.
There are only two other historical CMA Entertainer of the Year winners not in the Country Music Hall of Fame: Charlie Rich and John Denver. The legacy of both of these men pales by comparison to Williams Jr.'s oversized influence. The above Secret History video spotlights a few of the modern songs that tip a hat to Ol' Bocephus and explains in as much detail as possible why he's on the outside looking in. Ultimately what makes him Hank makes him an unlikely candidate in either Modern Era or Veterans category.
The Secret History of Country Music is a new weekly series hosted by Taste of Country News host Ania Hammar. We'll go deeper inside the stories of country music's biggest hits, moments and figures. Be sure to subscribe to Taste of Country's YouTube channel so you never miss a new episode.
WATCH: Alan Jackson Is One Bad Mo-Fo!