This is a questions I get here at Saving Country Music quite often. The mythology and legacy of the Hank Williams name is so robust, some folks just can’t imagine it ever coming to an end. But getting to the answer I found to be a complicated task.
The requirement is simple though. For someone to be a true Hank Williams, they would need to be a son of Hank Williams III, and that son would need to be named Hank, at least in some way. However, Hank Sr.’s real name was Hiram King, which he changed to Hank, thinking it would be better for country music. The ‘Hank’ in Hank Jr. and Hank3’s name comes from their given middle name, not their first name: Randall Hank Williams and Shelton Hank Williams respectively.
We do know that Hank3 has at least one son, who he’s spoken about many times in reference to a paternal suit he was hit with when his son was 5, which resulted in him signing his music contract with Curb Records and getting professionally involved in country music. However at this point, that son, who is now somewhere around 20-years-old, is not involved in music, and was not named Hank or Williams, rather taking the name of his mother. At some point if he wanted to get involved in music, he could decide to take the Hank Williams stage name, and that would create a new set of debate points, but at this point, he is not Hank IV.
To further muddy the waters, there is a punk band out of San Francisco, CA called ‘Hank IV’, and it is not just some basement project, but an active band, putting out albums, garnering press, that has been around for years. I remember years ago rolling up to Hank IV’s MySpace site, and almost mocking to the situation, it said they wanted to take the name just in case Hank3 had a son that wanted to get into music. In November 2010, Hank IV released their third album entitled ‘III’, very similar to the moniker ‘III’ or three bars Hank3 used before changing recently to ‘Hank3’ to denote the new era of his career post-Curb Records. In fairness to Hank IV, the first thing on their MySpace site now is the disclaimer: “HANK IV is a San Francisco rock band still with no relation whatsoever to the Hank Williams clan.” So without question, San Fran’s ‘Hank IV’ is not the Hank IV we are looking for.
That leads us to a 13-year-old country music prodigy from Montgomery, AL named Ricky Fitzgerald. Ricky is an excellent young performer, who with haunting proficiency, can belt out the best of Hank Williams, as can be seen in this video taken in 2009 from the Wagon House Opry in Haddock, GA that proclaims him the “real Hank IV” in the title:
If you go to the URL for this video and read the comments (at the posting of this article), there is a comment that states:
He came to my venue, and I spoke with his family. He is a bastard child of Hank III, which is the story I got, Taken name is Ricky Fitzgerald, however he in fact is related and is Hank IV.
Furthermore, on this web page, it asserts that there is a Parham Henry Williams IV who is “…Hank III’s son out of wedlock, who is also following in Hank Williams’ footsteps.” But when you click on the Parham name, it takes you back to the above video for Ricky Fitzgerald. Ricky has performed at many of the small Opry houses throughout the deep south, as well as the Nashville Palace in Nashville, TN, and the Hank Williams Museum and Hank Williams Festival in Georgiana, AL. He also apparently makes an appearance in the currently-dormant documentary about the Reinstate Hank movement, where he is presented as Hank IV.
But when you go to Ricky Fitzgerald’s website, there is no mention of ‘Hank IV’. Numerous attempts from Saving Country Music to reach representatives of Ricky Fitzgerald have gone unanswered, and his website has not been updated in about a year. If at some point Ricky or his representatives were using the name ‘Hank IV’, they apparently are no longer. Nowhere is there any evidence that Ricky Fitzgerald or anyone else is the real ‘Hank IV’. From my understanding, Ricky does have some distant blood relation to Hank Williams, possibly from Hank Sr.’s uncle, but he is not Hank3’s bastard son. When I interviewed Hank3 recently, I asked him about Ricky Fitzgerald, and the possibility of any Hank IV’s:
No, absolutely not. The only Hank IV I’ve ever heard about was Howard Stern’s old midget drunk. I know for a fact there’s no other unclaimed children out there. Anybody that was a bastard son, you know they’d be coming after me for money.
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So in closing, the answer is … no. Unless Hank3 has a son in the future and decides to name it ‘Hank’, the Hank Williams name will end with Hank3.