Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Night (to remember) at the Opry, June 11, 1949

Hank Williams Country Music Folio
Acuff-Rose Music, Nashville, Tennessee, 1948
From the Wade Hall Sheet Music Collection

It's hard to believe that the musical icon and Alabama native Hank Williams (September 17, 1923 – January 1, 1953) was only twenty-nine years old when he passed away. He left a catalog behind that a performer who lived one hundred years would envy.

June 11, 1949 marks the sixtieth anniversary of Hank Williams' very first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry, where he performed two of his many, many legendary hits, Lovesick Blues and Mind your Own Business.

Here's a taste of his magic on the Opry stage -- a little bit grainy, but you get the idea.

The Hoole Special Collections Library has a significant collection of sheet music and sound recordings from Alabama's myriad of musical royalty. The Hoole Library also has significant holdings including published and manuscript materials by authors and scholars who explore Alabama's rich musical history. In 2005, the Hoole Library hosted one such author, Alabama native Paul Hemphill, whose book Lovesick Blues: The Life of Hank Williams (Viking, 2005) was featured in the NYTimes Book Review (written by none other than Garrison Keillor) the very week he came to the Hoole Library!

Flier from Paul Hemphill talk, 2005.
A small exhibit of Hank Williams materials was featured
in conjunction with this event at the Hoole Library.

Hank Williams is without a doubt a songwriting and performing legend. He established himself in an all-too-brief life as a pioneer and inspiration for generations to come, and is considered one of the most important songwriters of the 20th century. Not only does his name live on with his son, daughter and grandchildren, who all work as professional musicians, but his songs live on with countless covers, tributes, and homages to his unmistakable style.

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