Click to listen

Click to listen

Sept. 17: To celebrate what would have been his 86th birthday, here’s Hank Williams as he sounded on the Grand Ole Opry. It’s a glimpse of the “hillbilly Shakespeare” as a performer and a man, before his untimely death made him larger than life.

This comes from an Opry show on Jan. 6, 1951, in the middle of his run of 24 straight Billboard Top 10 records — all but three were in the Top 5, and 11 of them reached No. 1. It’s established star Red Foley who introduces young star Hank to an appreciative crowd at the Ryman Auditorium. He and his band, the Drifting Cowboys, offer up a spirited version of a song they’d cut four months earlier for MGM Records. As Hank said, it was “beginnin’ to catch on around the country,” on its way to the top of the charts.

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