The Influence of Hank Williams III on Modern Music

On not just a few occasions since I started Free Hank III, I’ve found myself attempting to justify to someone why I think Hank Williams III is such an influential and important musician in country music, and why he and his music is worth fighting for.

Sometimes it is in person, sometimes in the comments of a blog or through email. Sometimes the people are not fans of Hank III, or they aren’t any more because he’s “gone metal,” and some are big fans but just don’t believe that he is that important in the grand scheme of things, now or when you take a few steps back and look at the history of country music as a whole.

But I always insist and state my case for Hank III, not just as a fan of the man, but as a fan of country music and a tireless geek of country music history.

I’m not sure that Hank III is TRYING to influence the fate country music, I think he is just doing his thing, doing what he wants to do and speaking from his heart, just like all influential artists have through time.

Upon occasions signs of Hank III’s impact spring up unexpectedly, and remind me just how important the man and his music have been. For example it sprang up in the comments section of THIS BLOG I wrote a couple of weeks back, that had nothing to do with Hank III. A faithful reader of mine Burch said:

“After about 20 years and thousands upon thousands of dollars spent, I’d finally accumulated a fair collection of heavy metal music. Then I heard Hank III and figured “Hell, listening to one or two country guys isn’t going to kill me.” Two years after hearing him and now having discovered all of these other guys like Dale (Watson) and the ever-growing list of real country acts out there that absolutely kill the mainstream segment of the genre, it’s clear that I’m never going to have a spare dime for as long as I live.”

Hank III turned Burch and thousands of others on to country music. III showed them that REAL country music was not the stuff they were playing on pop radio, and was a gateway to REAL country musicians of the present and the past.

Then Restless in Amsterdam showed that it could go the other way around; from country to metal:

From Restless:

“That’s funny, it went for me the other way around . . . I listened to country music and rockabilly a lot, like Waylon, Hank, David Allan Coe, Merle Haggard, Stray Cats, Buddy Holly, etc. etc. . . I discovered metal like Down, Arson Anthem, Panthera and last year I went to see the Misfits because I learned about that here via Hank III. . .

Then about a week or so ago, by a complete stupid accident I stumbled upon THIS BLOG by a 60-year-old man named John, who had been turned on to Hank III’s Straight to Hell by a friend.

It reminded me of the first time I heard Risin’ Outlaw. Not only was I an instant fan, but something about the music wanted me to tell anyone and everyone about it. I was like “Holy Shit, this is the music I’ve been waiting my whole life for. It’s not radio country, ITS REAL COUNTRY!”

And Hank III has been a proverbial conduit for good music (country, metal, punk) for thousands and thousands of people. He treats his clothing, guitar, and even his flesh like a billboard of good music to check out, like road map for all of us to follow to this underground music world where the music is true in its feeling and in its roots.

Hank Williams III has sacrificed the MILLIONS OF DOLLARS he could’ve made riding off his name, becoming a pop country product, for staying true to the music. And even if you’re not a Hank III fan, or are lukewarm on his music, the man is worth recognizing just for that.

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