News / Arts & Entertainment

Hank Williams' 1950 Radio Performances Released

Katherine Cole
It’s been more than 60 years since Country music star Hank Williams died. But his songs -- including “Cold Cold Heart,” “Hey Good Lookin’” and “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” -- are still influencing songwriters in Nashville and beyond.  Some of Williams’ 1950 radio performances have just been unearthed, giving fans something new to enjoy.

Back in the 1950s in the United States, it wasn’t uncommon for a company to buy a block of 15 minutes or more on regional radio stations for their own entertainment show, putting the name of their product in the title. That’s what Naughton Farms of Waxahachie, Texas did in 1950, when they produced the “Garden Spot Programs."
 
Country music artist Hank Williams in an undated photo released by the Country Music Hall of Fame.Country music artist Hank Williams in an undated photo released by the Country Music Hall of Fame.
x
Country music artist Hank Williams in an undated photo released by the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Country music artist Hank Williams in an undated photo released by the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Each 15-minute show started with Williams singing a jingle advertising the company, followed by a bit of chat with the program’s host. Hearing her father laughing and talking has excited the late singer’s daughter Jett Williams almost more than hearing him sing.

“My dad died five days before I was born," she said. "To actually hear your parent’s voice and hear them laugh and talk and tell a joke, it just gives you that closeness that’s a gift.”

Those radio programs have been gathered together into a new CD collection co-produced by Williams biographer Colin Escott, who won two Grammys for "The Complete Hank Williams" boxed set in 1999.

Escott didn’t go looking for the Garden Spot sessions, he just happened upon them.

“It was sitting in a radio station in Creston, Iowa. That kind of is like sitting under a bed somewhere…These shows were sent out to, I don’t know, probably hundreds of stations, but it seems that just the copies that went out to KSIB in Creston, Iowa survived," he said. "Sixty years later, they still sounded pretty good. We got the engineer to take out pops and ticks and crackles and it sounds like they were recorded yesterday.”
 
Hank Williams' 1950 Radio Performances Released
Hank Williams' 1950 Radio Performances Releasedi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

The well-known recording of Williams singing ‘Lovesick Blues,’ is one song featured on the new collection of long-lost live broadcasts.

“I’ve heard that song so many times and here Hank is playing with a different band. It just sounds so different," Escott said. "It’s kind of like I get to hear it for the first time again.

Williams had a short, but brilliant career: he died 61 years ago at the age of 29. He only recorded 66 songs under his own name…and an incredible 37 of them became hits. Escott says the songs aren’t the only reason there’s still so much interest in the Country music star.

“In part because he didn’t live long enough to make any bad records, that’s certainly part of it," he said. "He was like the first ‘live fast, love hard, die young’ rock and roller. And he just wrote so, so many great songs in such a short period of time. And he sang them with this riveting intensity, you know? You listen to these shows and they’re trapped in 1950. But the way Hank sings, it’s just timeless.”

The set captures Williams at the top of his game. In 1950, he was a huge star, in good health, headlining the Grand Ole Opry and freshly back from a tour in Europe, playing for troops serving overseas. "The Garden Spot Programs" bring him to life in a way that studio recordings never could.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Christmas Gains Popularity in Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Soul Lounge

"Soul Lounge" host Shawna Renee catches up with soul singer and songwriter Russell Taylor to hear what he’s been up to since winning the VH1 "You Oughta Know" title in 2013. She also convinces him to share a few songs from his album "War of Hearts."