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Hank Williams: The Biography Paperback – April 13, 2004

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 388 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books; Revised edition (April 13, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316734977
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316734974
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #365,020 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Escott traces the triumphant and tragic career of the legendary country star, who died at 29 from a drug overdose.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From Library Journal

The man who gave us Good Rockin' Tonight ( LJ 3/15/91) brings us the man who gave us country music.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

All I can say after reading this book is,"Wow."
Doug DePew
Colin Escott nails it, a wonderful work that explores the tragedy that was Hank Williams.
It is a great read, well researched, and very informative.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 42 people found the following review helpful By cheri on January 9, 2002
Format: Paperback
I just finished reading this biography of Mr. Williams, and came away feeling very sad for Hank and his son Hank, Jr. Although the book chronicles the real contributions that Hank's mother and wife Audrey made in starting his career, the two women seemed to use Hank as a gravy train, with little love shown for this sad, lonely man. Particularly disgusting was the vulture like behavior exhibited immediately following his tragic death. Thank heaven he had Billie Jean, if even for a short while. She seems to be the only woman in his life that really loved him. Between his back pain and loneliness, it's no wonder he drank.
There was a lot of interesting detail in the book, sometimes too much info for my taste. Mr. Escott went into exhausting detail giving the background of practically every soul Hank ever met. It also seemed Mr. Escott disliked Roy Acuff, which I found interesting, since he has always been portrayed as a virtual saint. Also, Mr. Escott's descriptions of what would have become of Hank and his career had he lived were very interesting, and probably true.
I wish Hank, Jr. could have known his father, it was obvious that Hank loved him, but addictions and circumstance kept them apart.
I'll listen to Hank's music with a much deeper knowledge of the pain that influenced his songs.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Gerald L. Russell on February 28, 2004
Format: Paperback
Except for Jesus Christ and Robert E. Lee, no other person has affected the conscious and unconscious mind of the average Southerner as has Hank Williams.
Colin Escott's biography is less sentimental and more sensationalized than Roger Williams', but is it really more detailed? After all, you can only get so much material within a given number of pages. Nevertheless, every time you re-read this book, you pick up facts and suggestions you never noticed before.
Of course, this is necessarily true with such a complex man, a genius in his field, and whose life and death were mysterious.
My favorite anecdote concerning Hank is missing from both books and is related by his steel guitarist, Don Helms: Once, playing an outdoor venue, it began to rain on Hank and his band. Hank and the band retreated to a covered stage area, where they continued the show. Looking over the audience, who were getting soaked, Hank had compassion on his musical followers, and returned to the rain. "If you're good enough to listen to me in the rain, I'm good enough to play for you in the rain!" And he did.
There you have it--a man with godlike qualities but yet a complete lack of pretense and who cared for his listeners like no one ever has. This is why you should pick up a copy of this for yourself and a copy to pass down to your grandchildren. We should never let this man's memory die.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By james a kalafus on January 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is the only biography of Hank Williams ( other than that by his daughter, Lycretia, and DAle Vinnicur) to come out in the last decade of so that doesn't reek of "only in it for the money." It is well researched (Mr. Escott managed to interview nearly everyone still living who knew Hank Williams, and the unedited interviews would probably make for a great book on their own) and, fortunately, puts the music ahead of the personal life while discussing the man. Also, there is little of the smugness that one frequently finds in books written about country performers, for which fans can be grateful. A well structured, readable book that contains enough new information to keep all but the most well-versed (bad joke, I know) Hank Williams fans entertained.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Terry L. Miller on January 11, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Hank left little documented about his personal self, outside of what he projected in his songs. Few to none can claim to actually "know" the man in his thoughts and emotions. It is clear to fans of Hank this is where they want to know the real story. I give Escott credit for digging for all the fine detailed facts he could find on Williams. That is what the book reads like, listing rare facts, but leaves a mental picture of Hank only as a simple alcoholic. It lacks the soul or emotion that drove Hank. Nothing was said about his performing magic he had with his audiences. Little is said about the sex appeal body movements that set the stage for the modern performers in the electronic age. Nothing about that revoluntary precise driving forerunning Nashville music sound. Also, not much about Hank being the original hell raiser that few of the following rock stars could keep up with. Little is wrote about his complexity, from rockabilly to gospel, and from honkytonk idolizing to Luke the Drifter moralizing. These stories are missing. Stories that give life to the man. Escrow downplayed the impact of Williams had he lived. His death created an instant legend, but trying to predict the what if's is anyones quess. I believe Hank would have continued impacting the modern music age. Not in the role that we know him from 1949 to 53, but I don't believe he would have met the fate of others during the rock and roll era. He had far to much special talent. Especially songwriting with the ability to connect with what people wanted, and not afraid to experiment with new ideas. Escott missed the fact Hank was a folk writer/singer and that they endure. I'll give Escott credit in digging into Hank's death, but a lot was left unsaid, and remains a mystery.Read more ›
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More About the Author

Colin Escott (b. 1949), the foremost authority on Sun Records, first wrote the company's history in 1975 and has revised and expanded it several times since. He has published several other volumes on the early days of country music, including a biography of Hank Williams and The Grand Ole Opry: The Making of an American Icon. He won a Grammy for his work on Mercury Records' The Complete Hank Williams, and in 2010 received a Tony nomination for Million Dollar Quartet, a Broadway musical about the legendary one-night jam session of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis, scheduled to open in London in February 2011. In 2010, he was nominated for a Grammy for producing Hank Williams: The Complete Mother's Best Recordings.

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