On This Date: Country Music Legend Hank Williams Is Fired From The Grand Ole Opry

Hank Williams et al. playing instruments
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Hank Williams Sr. is one of the most iconic country music singers of them all.

He made his debut at the iconic Grand Ole Opry in June of 1949 singing “Lovesick Blues” and “Mind Your Own Business.” After earning an incredible six encores at the end of the show, he became a regular from that point on for a few years.

But it’s well-documented that he struggled with alcohol abuse and an addiction to painkillers (including morphine), which was only heightened after falling during a hunting trip in Tennessee that reactivated his old back pains.

His dependence on prescription drugs and alcohol caused him to miss several Opry performances (along with other big commitments), and he was officially fired from the show on August 11th, 1952, just two days after missing another performance.

It’s hard to imagine someone like him not being a member of one of the most prestigious institutions in the genre, but it’s true.

The Opry has mentioned several times that they don’t plan to reinstate Hank as a member, but they also maintain the position that the firing was never meant to be permanent. They wanted it to serve as a warning to other artists who fell into similar patterns of absence from the show.

On top of his firing from the Opry in August, earlier in 1952, his divorce from then-wife Audrey Williams was finalized in May and he lost his MGM movie contract in June.

Despite all of that, though, he managed to get himself a #1 single with “Jambalaya (On The Bayou)” breezing to the #1 spot on the charts that summer.

Unfortunately, Hank never got the chance to be reinstated to the Opry, as he tragically passed away far too soon a few months after his ban at the age of 29 on January 1st, 1953.

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