An Institution Called Hank Williams Jr
(He Filled His Father's Shoes - Then Outgrew Them)

Eclipsing his legendary Father may not have been what Hank Williams Jr set out to do, but in his struggle to make his own way with his own music, he did just that. Through the many phases of his career he has somehow transformed into an institution of such magnitude that the shadow he casts rises above an entire establishment which had once sidestepped him at times but eventually came to realize he was indeed a force to be reckoned with. He commanded the loyalty of an army of Bocephus fans both young and old long before his determination of doing things his own way was accepted by the industry in general.

The saga of Hank Williams Jr is well documented recalling the early days of singing the songs of Hank Sr. The shoes fit quite well and he was eagerly received by those who could still vividly recall his famous Dad. "Standing In The Shadows" is an echo of where he was at that time. As he struggled to move out of that shadow into his own space, his own songs began reaching impressive positions on the charts on a regular basis. "I Wouldn't Change a Thing About You", "All For The Love Of Sunshine" and "Eleven Roses" were typical for the late 60's and early 70's. But in 1979 you could almost smell the rubber burning from the slamming of brakes and shifting directions. Things began to heat up in the Bocephus camp with songs like " Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound" and "Women I've Never Had." He wasn't phased by the jaw-dropping doubletakes of industry tradionalists or the fact he was branded an outlaw.

The 80's became his proving ground. He tapped into a massive fan base most probably didn't know existed with songs like "Country Boy Can Survive," "Family Tradition" and "If Heaven Ain't a Lot Like Dixie." It was amazing how these fans who ranged from hard rockers to hard core country responded to him. During that time, he was the first country artist to enhance his stage show with hi-tech special effects, something unique to rock at the time. Speaking volumes, the charts tell it all. Before the decade would run it's course, he would win CMA Entertainer of the Year two years in a row. Altogether the awards to date include six Academy of Country Music Awards (three for entertainer of the year), seven Country Music Association awards,(Two were Entertainer of the year) four Emmy Awards for "Monday Night Football," and a Grammy Award in 1990 for "There's A Tear In My Beer." In 2006 he was awarded the Johnny Cash Visionary Award by CMT. Among his most avid fans are famous fellow entertainers, some who were themselves influenced by him on their way up. The attitude towards him today is one of deep respect. Without conforming, Hank Williams Jr became a firmly established institution that no one could repudiate.

With over four decades under that unconformable belt, Hank Williams Jr. will once again hit the stages across the country this summer promoting his latest studio album from Curb Records, "127 Rose Ave." The album features "Red, White and Pink Slip Blues," a timely song which addresses the brutal reality many face in places hard hit by today's economic woes. Although Hank Williams Jr never had to experience any of the problems in the song, in reality many are living them and can identify with some part of it. The situation related in this song is far reaching and not limited to country radio listeners. - NU



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Hank Jr at Rolling Stone
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