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Hank Jr. finds his roots

By Jeffrey B. Remz, February 2002

Page 3...

Williams' involvement in football has been going strong for more than a dozen years with his image and voice asking fans "Are you ready for some football?"

The son of Roone Arledge, the ABC exec who spearheaded Monday Night Football, played Hank Jr.'s tapes a lot.

"I think that's what got it started," says WIlliams." He said, 'we got to do something to liven up the whole show...It was a one-year deal that turned into what it's turned into with three Emmys sitting in the cabinet. Boy was that wonderful."

While he still may be popular with the football crowd, that has not always been the case with the country crowd. He has had his career ups and downs with the downs dominating moreso in recent years.

Searching for his own musical path, by the early 1970's, Hank Jr. veered towards more of a Southern rock sound with "Living Proof" and "Bocephus."

But Williams' career was detoured when he fell off a mountain in Montana where he still goes for vacation and suffered severe facial damage in 1975. He did not perform for nine months.

He left MGM for Warner and then Elektra where finally in 1979, his career was on the upturn.

He had hits with "Family Tradition" and "Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound" late in 1979.

Less than two years later, Hank Jr. would hit paydirt again with such number ones as "Texas Women," "Dixie on My Mind," All My Rowdy Friends (Have Settled Down)" and "Honky Tonkin'."

He had a string of other number 1s and Top 10s throughout the decade, including "Born to Boogie" and "A Country Boy Can Survive."

In 1987 and 1988, Williams was the Country Music Association Entertainer of the Year.

But by the end of the decade. Williams' run of hit albums and singles was coming to a close. His last top 10 singles hit was "Good Friends, Good Whiskey, Good Lovin'" from 1990.

He still put out music in the '90's, albeit less frequently and with hat acts dominating the charts, there was not much of a place for the rowdiness of Hank Jr.

But Williams isn't crying in his beer.

"I'm a guy that went on Billboard in '64, and I'm still in there thank goodness. I have seen (radio station executives say), 'oh God, we can't play that. That's got a steel guitar on that. And that's where we are now. I've seen it go that way, leave and then go back. Who wants to hear that? That's too country? That's Hank Jr. Oh no, that's too rock."

Williams says he doesn't listen to much country. "It's really pop. It really is."

"Several years ago, I had to just forget about that. You just got to sit down with little dobro and write them like you feel them and see them. Maybe that's why Almeria's got a dobro and a banjo. I'm a guy that is from that world. Yeah, I had (Marshall Tucker Band) Toy Caldwell and (former Allman Brothers Band member) Dickie Betts around and also had Flatt & Scruggs too. I think that's what that's about. And now Bob Ritchie."

Not to mention his father. Hank Jr. says it's "pride and the genuine interest and the look on people's faces when they touch his lyrics here or his guitar, and it doesn't matter if it's the biggest rock guitarist or whoever. They're all the same when it comes to that. He was one of the first American superstars."

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