Hank Williams (1923–1953)
Williams is considered the father of contemporary country music. He was a major star by the age of twenty-five and dead at the age of twenty-nine. He began recording in Nashville in 1946 with a lineup that featured electric and acoustic guitars, and he helped set the scene for the rock-and-roll revolution of the 1950s.
Many artists from across the musical spectrum have paid homage to Hank Williams's talent by creating cover versions of his famous songs. Artists as varied as Al Green, Bob Dylan, Huey Lewis and the News, Martina McBride, the Grateful Dead, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Norah Jones, and Elvis Presley have all covered Hank's tunes.
In four short years, he established the rules for all the country performers that followed him — and, in the process, much of popular music. Williams wrote a body of songs that hit the top-ten charts and became popular classics, including “Your Cheating Heart,” “I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry,” and “Hey Good Lookin'.” Williams's direct, emotional lyrics and vocals became the standard for most popular performers.