NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Happy birthday to Hank Williams Jr., who turned 72 years old Wednesday.
Here are nine things to know about the singer-songwriter:
1. Randall Hank Williams Jr. was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, on May 26, 1949, one month before his father made his Grand Ole Opry debut with “Lovesick Blues,” which drew six encores.
2. Hank Williams Sr. gave his son his nickname, “Bocephus,” after Grand Ole Opry comedian Rod Brasfield’s ventriloquist dummy. During radio performances, he would send a message to his namesake, closing shows by saying, “Don’t worry, Bocephus, I’m coming home.” Williams Sr. died at age 29 when his son was 3 years old.
3. Raised in Nashville, Williams Jr. learned music from Earl Scruggs, who gave him banjo lessons, and Jerry Lee Lewis, who showed him piano licks. He made his own Opry debut at age 11, singing “Lovesick Blues” just like his father.
4. He attended John Overton High School in Nashville.
5. In 1975, he was nearly killed in a fall from the side of Ajax Mountain in Montana. He was disfigured and underwent multiple surgeries and a lengthy recovery period, from which he emerged determined to succeed outside of his father’s shadow.
6. After the accident, Williams grew a beard and began wearing sunglasses and a cowboy hat, which have become his signature look.
7. In 1989, he re-worked his hit song “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight” into a theme song for ABC’s Monday Night Football. Hank would become the singing voice of Monday Night Football for 22 years until ESPN pulled the song in 2011 after he made an analogy involving President Barack Obama and Adolf Hitler. Soon afterward, Williams apologized for the “dumb statement.” ESPN eventually brought back the song in 2017 only to pull it again in 2020 over concerns that it conveyed a confusing message amid the pandemic, reported the Sports Business Journal.
8. His daughter, Katherine Williams-Dunning, died in a crash in Henry County on June 13, 2020, at age 27.
9. He was elected into the Country Music Hall of Fame in August 2020.