Hiram King was born in a small town in the deep south of America. He was the third child in his family. His father was not educated but he worked hard as a logger. When Hiram was only six years old his dad's health failed him and he entered a Veterans Hospital and was absent for 10 years. This was devastating for Hiram as well as his family. Their income was slashed and his mother ran a boarding house to make ends meet; it was a struggle.
Hiram had Spina Bifida and was at a disadvantage and was unable to play games which isolated him from others his age. He went to church and found he liked hymns and other music they sang. Country music and African street music tickled his ear. He spent much time listening to and trying to learn how to sing and play all three types. To assist his music development he learned to play the guitar at an early age. Because he could not play baseball and other games he organized his share of garage bands.
Hiram and his bands entered talent shows and local community evenings of entertainment. Surprisingly he won a few contests which whetted his appetite to pursue music. He even was selected to sing on a local radio station. Who would have thought this skinny kid would learn music and perform. He also realized he had a knack for writing songs.
Some music executives learned of his acumen as a teen band leader and sought information about him. At times the spina bifida which accompanied him all his life hurt so bad he could hardly walk forcing him to use a cane. "Al Cohol" became his constant companion to cope with the pain. By the time he was old enough to vote he was well established as a local unpredictable performer. He would be a no-show or he arrived too drunk to perform.
As many aspiring performers of the time Hiram packed an old car with valued possessions and drove to the Garden of Eden of country music -- Nashville. He made the rounds of Music Row and made demos to all who would listen. He was finally employed to write songs for others. A year later he was listening to the radio and suddenly the announcer said, "Here is a song by a new singer named Hiram King." He froze. Listened. Smiled then laughed out loud. This was followed by hit after hit that changed his life.
He traveled continuously playing all over the U.S. His traveling companions of "Al Cohol" and "Mor Phine," were with him all the way. After several years his health slid down into the swamp. His hair fell out; he gained 30 pounds; had a mild heart attack. Then at the age of 29 while traveling to a performance he died in the back seat of his car. BW and I visited his home town and museum about him in Montgomery, Alabama, last week.
Hiram King Williams is better known by his stage name - Hank Williams.
Larry Vandeventer grew up North of Calvertville and Graduated from Worthington High School and Indiana State. Contact him at Goosecrick@aol.com or 317-839-7656.