Yes, Hank Jr. Addressed His Prolonged Hall of Fame Induction in Speech

photo: Getty Images for the Country Music Hall of Fame

Hank Williams Jr. was finally inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame on November 21st, 2021, and unfortunately, if you weren’t there in person, you weren’t able to see it for yourself since the event wasn’t streamed or broadcast in any capacity, and full video has yet to be released.

We are able to part and piece together what Hank Jr. said in his acceptance speech though, partly because he just didn’t have much to say. But for those wondering, yes, he did have something to say about how long it took for him to get there.

It’s first important to set the table about the Hank Williams Jr. induction itself, which came after years of Bocephus continuously being overlooked by the Hall of Fame. One of the most successful country performers in history, Hank Jr. passed all the way through Modern Era inductee period without being acknowledged, and ended up being a Veterans Era inductee well past when he should have been recognized. At times it felt like he may never get in at all.

Hank Jr.’s ongoing exclusion was such a point of contention that on his 2015 album It’s About Time in the song “Just Call Me Hank,” Bocephus delivered the line, “Don’t call me an icon, I don’t care about the Hall of Fame. Just gonna live my life in my country boy kinda way…

For sure, one of the reasons Hank Jr.’s Hall of Fame induction was such a long time coming had to do with how polarizing his personality has been outside of country music over the last few years. You also have to consider that when his good friend Waylon Jennings was inducted in October of 2001, Waylon didn’t even show up for the ceremony. Some like to think that Waylon was such an Outlaw, he blew the Hall of Fame off. But in truth Waylon was suffering from pretty severe diabetes at the time, and probably just wasn’t in good enough physical shape to attend. Waylon passed away about five months after his Hall of Fame induction.

Still, there had to be at least some concern that Hank Jr. might not attend either after how long his induction took, which might leave egg on the face of the Hall of Fame. Or maybe Hank Jr. would have some unsavory things to say. Either way, inducting him was the right thing to do, and his continued exclusion was undermining the Hall of Fame’s credibility. Ultimately Hank Jr. did show up, though according to him, if the induction had been the day before, he might not have.

“Well, the good thing is this didn’t happen yesterday, which was the opening day of deer season, which is kind of like squirrel season was with my father,”
Hank Jr. said to start off his speech, wearing a blazer adorned with a camo pattern. If you know anything about Hank Jr., you know he’s been an avid hunter and outdoorsman for years. “My little 6-year-old grandson sitting out there with his .44 Magnum Ruger, took his first deer.”

And then yes, Hank Jr. addressed the elephant in the room.

“A lot of people to thank. And I know who they are. They know who they are. That part about the family with the open arms? Well, that might have been a little bit different in my case.”

Hank Jr. only spoke for 1 minute and 47 seconds total. That’s compared to his fellow inductees Marty Stuart, who spoke for some 13 minutes, and songwriter Dean Dillon, who spoke for 8 minutes. But after his slight rib of the Hall of Fame, Hank Jr. kept it positive for the rest of the speech, ending by reciting names to some of his biggest songs.

“But, I went to Muscle Shoals, Alabama. And all my rowdy friends are coming over tonight. I was born to boogie. And this is a family tradition.”

The biggest thing to take away is that Hank Williams Jr. is finally in, and so are Marty Stuart and Dean Dillon—all three worthy inductees, even if the line of others who deserve to be in the Country Music Hall of Fame still goes out the door and snakes around the block.

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