There are now two Hank Williams in the Country Music Hall of Fame. Finally. The second most famous member of one of country music’s royal families has finally received the distinction fans had been waiting a very long time for. The announcement of Hank Williams Jr. as the 2020 Veterans Era inductee to the Hall of Fame came Wednesday morning (8-12) as the Hall of Fame unexpectedly announced the newest inductees after many delays in the process brought on by COVID-19 and the stuttering of the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville.
Marty Stuart was named as the Modern Era inductee, and Dean Dillon was named as the 2020 Songwriter inductee in the rotating category that distinguishes songwriters every 3rd year.
Though some wondered if Boceupus might even accept an induction after being snubbed for so long, he said in a statement, “Bocephus has been eyeing this one for awhile. It’s a bright spot during a difficult year. I have been making Top 10 records for 56 years. I fell off a mountain and tried to reinvent myself as a truly individual artist and one who stepped out of the shadows of a very famous man…one of the greatest. I’ve got to thank all those rowdy friends who, year after year, still show up for me. It’s an honor to carry on this family tradition. It is much appreciated.”
Hank Jr.’s career has spanned so many decades, and has seen such major success over that time, that it was hard to pin him down as a Veteran or Modern Era inductee, but what was hard to argue with was that Bocephus belonged. 70 millions records sold, 5 total wins for Entertainer of the Year from the CMA and ACM Awards, 6 platinum records and 20 gold ones, 13 #1 albums, and 10 #1 singles along with a host of other distinctions, Hank Jr. was the most decorated artist to not be in the Hall of Fame who was eligible for an extended period.
Born Randall Hank Williams in 1949 to his famous father and Audrey Williams, Hank was groomed from a very early age to fill the shoes of his dad. Hank Sr. died when Jr. was just four years old, and ever since the age of eight, he was singing Hank Williams songs professionally. Hank Jr. was touring regularly by the time he was 14, and was married for the first time when he was 17. But yearning deep inside of him was the desire to take his career in a different direction, and in the mid 70’s he broke away from his mother’s control, and began forging his own path that would include just as much Southern rock as country.
On August 8th, 1975, just as Hank Jr. was getting ready to start the new era of his career as “Rockin’ Randall Hank,” he nearly died after a 500 foot fall off of Ajax peak in Montana. After many surgeries and a lengthy recovery, Hank Jr. emerged as a strong voice in both country and Southern rock, and became one of the most successful artists of the era. He would reach his commercial peak in the late 80’s when he walked away with Entertainer of the Year trophies five consecutive times, two from the CMA in 1987 and 1988, and three from the ACM’s during the era.
Though Hank Williams Jr. only tours in a limited capacity today, he still remains a major draw, and is revered throughout the industry by fans young and old. Though his outspoken nature and bombast have made him a controversial character in the public spotlight at times, his contributions to American music are hard to deny. In 2015, Hank Williams Jr. signed to Big Machine’s NASH Icon label, and released a new album in 2016 called It’s About Time. Hank Jr. is also the father of successful performers Holly Williams, Hank Williams III (Hank3), and Hilary Williams.
It’s hard to argue with the pick of Hank Williams Jr. as the Country Music Hall of Fame’s latest member. The only question was, why did it take so long? He will be officially inducted into the Hall of Fame in a Medallion Ceremony to be held on a to-be-determined date.