Hank Williams’ Last Ride


Well it finally happened.

Curb Records finally found the coordinates of the freehank3.org compound, and dispatched the flying monkeys to descend on my ass. So it’s time to pull up stakes here in the isolated mountains of northern New Mexico and head further west.

Moving sucks, but there ain’t nothing I love more than a road trip. The price of gas is kind of souring everything nowadays, but still the only place I ever feel at home is on the open road.

Having said that, ever since I was young I knew I would die on the open road. Don’t ask me how, I’ve just always felt that.

Knowing this has always made me fascinated with the last ride of Hank Williams. He died at some point on a road trip from Montgomery, Alabama to a gig in Canton, Ohio, as 1952 turned to 1953.

Hank Williams’ Last Ride

–The trip started on December 30th in Montgomery, Alabama. Hank and his driver Charles Carr drove Hank’s powder blue Cadillac to Birmingham where they stayed the night. Before they started off, Hank took a shot of morphine to help with his chronic back pain.

— The next morning Williams and Carr drove to Knoxville, TN, and at 3:30 PM, Hank boarded a plane bound for Charleston, WV where he was scheduled to play a New Year’s Eve concert. Unfortunately fog turned the plane back and Hank spent the night drinking at the Andrew Johnson motel. Then he took two more shots of morphine and a shot of vitamin B-12 for his back, and Carr carried Hank out to the powder blue Cadillac at about 11 PM, where the road trip began once again.

— Between Corryton and Blaine in Tennessee, officer Swan H. Kitts pulled the Cadillac over and said that the passenger in the back looked ‘dead.’ Carr said Hank was only sleeping, paid the speeding fine and kept on truckin’. In Bristol, TN Carr stopped for gas and a sandwich and said he spoke to Williams briefly.

–This is where things get a little sketchy. In Bluefield WV, they picked up a relief driver, Donald Surface, but Surface only drove for a very short period, and then Carr took back over. Some reports say Surface was dropped off in Princeton, WV, just north of Bluefield. Some reports say Hank Williams received more morphine at a sanitorium in Bluefield, but Carr denies this.

–In the wee hours of New Years Day of 1953, somewhere between Mt. Hope and Oak Hill West Virginia, Charles Carr noticed that the blanket covering Hank Williams had slipped off him. Carr touched Hank Williams’ hand, and it was cold and stiff.

–Hiram Hank Williams was pronounced dead at the General Hospital in Oak Hill, West Virginia with the official cause of death labeled ‘heart failure.’ Falstaff beer bottles littered the backseat floorboard of the powder blue Cadillac when it was searched by the cops at the Pure Oil station in Oak Hill.

The term ‘Rock ‘n Roll had not even been coined yet, and Hank Williams has died a rock star’s death; the first of it’s kind. It was not uncommon to hear about morphine addicts in 1953, but overdoses were almost unheard of.

Possibly to most tragic part of the story is that the Grand Ole Opry was poised to Reinstate Hank Williams soon, but he would not live to see it, possibly because he was trying to drown out the misery of being thrown out of the Opry in the first place.

And by the way, that flying monkey stuff is bullshit, as long as I stay away from the cocktail of morphine and Falstaff, but the moving part is not. So my internet presence will be a little sketchy for the next couple of days, but I’ll catch up with everyone on the flip side.

Happy Birthday Waymore.

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