Hank Williams Performs on The Grand Ole Opry (Great Events from History II: Arts and Culture Series)
Article abstract: Hank Williams’ 1949 recording of “Lovesick Blues” and his performance on The Grand Ole Opry marked the emergence of country music as a national force in popular music.
Summary of Event
Little did Hank Williams know when he recorded the old Tin Pan Alley song “Lovesick Blues” in December, 1948, that he would soon become the most popular star in country music and a regular member of the prestigious show The Grand Ole Opry. The song, written by Cliff Friend, had been recorded before, and Williams probably learned it from his fellow Alabamian Rex Griffin. Williams had already been singing “Lovesick Blues” in live performances, and he finally persuaded his song publisher and record producer, Fred Rose, to let him record it.
Released in early February, 1949, Williams’ version of “Lovesick Blues” shot up the country charts and became Williams’ first number-one song. His bluesy, subtly inflected vocal, highlighted by a distinctive mini-yodel, effectively turned a standard into a country lament. Williams’ propulsive singing rode over a driving band and handled well the song’s middle section with its minor progressions. The recording was different from the usual country fare of the time, which tended to feature rather four-square rhythm-chord patterns. The song stayed on the country charts for forty-two weeks, sixteen at number one, and even made the pop charts in...
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