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

US Gives Malaysia Questionable Upgrade in Human Trafficking Ranks

Malaysia’s upgrade seen as removing barrier to country’s participation in the US-led 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership More

Turkey, US Try to Establish Buffer Despite Differences

Coalition airstrikes in proposed zone would aim to drive out Islamic extremists, allowing targeted area to come under sway of anti-Assad rebels More

Video US: Millions Exploited by Vast Fortunes of Human Trafficking

State Department's annual report calls exploitation 'modern slavery,' brutalizing girls, women into prostitution and forcing men, women and children into low-wage jobs across the globe 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 Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Wini
X
July 28, 2015 12:21 AM
The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Obama Encourages Kenya to Fix Cultures of Corruption, Discrimination

President Barack Obama bid farewell to Kenya Sunday with a major speech at as stadium outside the capital Nairobi where he called on Kenyans to change the cultures of corruption and discrimination that can hold society back. VOA East Africa Correspondent Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video California Towns Welcome Special Olympics Athletes

Cities and towns in Southern California are greeting thousands of athletes who are arriving for Special Olympics, a competition for people with intellectual disabilities. The games will run from July 25th through August 2nd. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, where athletes from Namibia, Singapore and Tanzania got a rousing welcome from local residents.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.
Video

Video Hoverbike Flying Toward Reality

Another long-standing dream of many technological inventors is quickly approaching reality: U.S.- and British-based firms are cooperating in the development of an individual flying platform they call a hoverbike. They say it may revolutionize the concept of flying, including in the U.S. military. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video As Japan Expands Defense Role, Protests Follow

The Japanese government is moving forward with a controversial security bill that would authorize the military to fight abroad for the first time since World War II. Leaders say it is critical to defend against rising threats from China and North Korea. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Japan on the big changes ahead, and the opposition they are drawing.
Video

Video Replacing Poppies with Coffee in Myanmar

The remote mountains of Myanmar’s Shan state are home to the second-largest opium-producing region in the world. After a drop during the 2000s, production surged in the past eight years to feed an increasing demand for heroin in China. But farmers are now making less on the crop, and the U.N. is hoping many will make the switch to growing coffee. Daniel de Carteret reports for VOA from Taunggyi.

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harry Wayne Casey – “KC” of KC and the Sunshine Band – comes to VOA’s Studio 4 to talk with "Border Crossings" host Larry London and perform songs from his new album, “Feeling You! The 60s.”