Human beings are resilient creatures. We can suffer terrible injuries, injuries that threaten to end our lives, or else prohibit us in ways that most of us could never imagine.
My point is, if you want to see how well we can push past these injuries, just look at all the limbless veterans out there running marathons, competing, building their lives back up. The human spirit is not an easy thing to crush and it’s an impossible thing to destroy. If you don’t believe me, read on…
On the Mountain
For the first time in his life, Hank was in love. The deep depression he had found himself in for so many years was finally lifting and he was celebrating by climbing an actual mountain with his friend. He was scaling Ajax Peak in Montana when suddenly, the snow gave out from under him…
At that moment, as Hank fell 500 feet down upon the rocks, Hank reflected upon his life. He had been born in May of 1949, in Shreveport, Louisiana. Hank’s, father, also named Hank, had given him the nickname Bocephus, after a ventriloquist dummy owned by a Grand Ole Opry comedian. There was a very good reason for this as it turned out…
Learn from the Best
You see, Hank’s father was a fan of the Grand Ole Opry mainly because he frequented it pretty often in his career as a country music star. Hank’s father was the legendary Hank Williams and when he was a baby, the Williams’ house was the central hangout for a host of famous stars like Johnny Cash, Fats Domino, Earl Scruggs, Lightnin’ Hopkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis.
But Hank Williams was not a happy man, he drank profusely and was addicted to drugs. Eventually, the lethal combination took its toll and Hank Williams died from a combination of liquor and speed. He was 29 years old. Hank Jr. was only three when his mother, Audrey Williams began raising him herself. She loved her boy and she wanted to see him succeed even his father’s legendary status…
Eight Years Old
Right from the start, Audrey Williams pushed Hank into the vacant spotlight left by his legendary father. Hank was eight years old when he took the stage to sing his father’s songs. He was good at it too. He was following in his father’s footsteps precisely and even began to take on his dad’s style. Even as a teenager, he performed as many as 200 nights a year.
Hank Jr. toured with the likes of Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis. He studied music in school to perfect his craft and became a multi-instrumentalist. He could play guitar, bass guitar, upright bass, steel guitar, banjo, dobro, piano, keyboards, harmonica, fiddle, and drums. He would soon learn that success wasn’t all it was cracked up to be…
He had done so well that his mother, who constantly pushed him to be better and to do more, finally let him drive his dad’s 52’ Cadillac. Despite his many fans and his ever-growing talent, Hank’s young life was one bereft of personal satisfaction. His professional life and burgeoning success gave him no joy either.
Williams’ own style was winking out in his renditions of his father’s songs. He wanted to be his own man, but the name Hank Williams was inescapable. He struggled to find his own voice and by the early 70’s, he had begun to emulate his father’s less-than-savory characteristics: namely, alcoholism and taking copious amounts of painkillers…
When he was 17, he married his first wife, but as this was mostly to spite his mother, the marriage didn’t last long. He married Gwen some years later and the two bore a son together, Hank Williams III, before eventually calling it quits. Just like his dad, Hank began to get plastered before shows and even started walking out on gigs.
Hank Jr. was falling apart. His personal life was in shambles, his professional life was unraveling at the seams. Talented though he undoubtedly was, Williams wasn’t happy. Then, in 1975, he tried to OD on Darvon. Luckily, he was discovered unconscious by his manager and was rushed to a local hospital. He survived, and things began to turn around…
Finding Love too Late
Soon after he got out of the hospital and quit drugs, he met the woman who would become his third wife. Becky was a native of Mer Rouge, Louisiana and was the first girl that Hank decided to take his time with. There was something about her that changed him. He didn’t want to just hook up with her, he wanted to be with her.
In no time at all, the two were well and truly in love. In 1975, Hank Jr. climbed to the top of Ajax Peak in Montana. He had been seeing a psychiatrist out of town who urged him to break away from his father’s style and legacy and become his own type of artist. He needed to get away for a bit and he figured that the Montana mountains were far enough…
Here Hank was, slipping and falling down 500 feet. He landed on a boulder, face-first. Hank’s face split open down the middle, from hairline to chin. When emergency crews arrived to rescue him, it looked as though someone had struck his face with an axe. He was rushed to the hospital, but the prognosis was not good.
Twenty-four hours after Hank and Becky admitted that they loved each other, Hank was lying in a hospital bed. He wasn’t expected to live, but Becky stayed by his bedside. Even with most of his face gone, she loved him. In time, he awoke, but it would take years for them to fully reconstruct his shattered visage. Thankfully, he had help during his recovery from some old friends…
Cashed-In Some Help
Hank Junior’s two-year recovery was bolstered not only by Becky by his old family friends Johnny Cash and his wife June Carter Cash.”Many people don’t realize that June Carter Cash was my godmother,” explains Hank Jr. “She and Mother were very tight. When I fell, there were only two people I saw when I woke up in the hospital bed, and that was Johnny and June.”
Prayers and Plastic Surgery
June Carter cash then laid a cross on his neck and told him that everything was going to be ok. He felt like he was a monster, like the wounds on his face would mean Becky wouldn’t want to be with him anymore. It took him time to come to terms with that. Hank didn’t know if he’d ever sing again, let alone talk, but he knew he had to pull through, if only for Becky…
Back to Music
Two years later and Hank rebuilt his face, but it was a further two years after that until Hank could rebuild his musical career, not to mention his personal life. Becky stuck it through with him and the two were married. She would be his third and final life and the catalyst for him to relaunch his music career.
Change in Style
After his long recovery, Hank was ready to turn some heads. He decided to challenge the established country music at the time by playing a mix of country, rock, and blues. It hadn’t been done, but people related to him for his music, and his strength of character. He even found some fans outside the country music scene…
Hank and Becky
Today, Hank and Becky live on a 20-acre parcel of land with Hilary, their little girl. Hank III still lives with his mother in Nashville, but Hank Jr. sees him from time to time. Though music is not his main passion anymore, Hank has found new things to occupy his time. These include cooking, hunting, and the occasional song for his wife and daughter.
Hank loves to hunt and has some impressive trophies, a stuffed mountain lion, grizzly, and rattlesnake in his basement to show off to his friends. He also likes to cook whatever they kill, his best is apparently a cubed venison soaked in beer and barbecued all night on a window screen. Sounds good to us!