Not often what you expect to hear from country music stars.
From a family rooted in country music, everyone knows the tunes from Hank Williams and Hank Williams Jr. While one of the Williams made it to being inducted into the Grand Ole Opry (even though it was short-lived), another was never asked to be an Opry member.
While many rumors speculated that Hank Williams Jr. was never asked to be an Opry member due to his father’s behavior, that is not the case.
His father, Hank Williams Sr., made his Opry debut in 1949, but his time as a member was short-lived when he was fired from performing at the Opry in 1952 after a few missed performances.
The manager of the Opry during the time of his firing told Williams that he could come back the following year if he became sober. But sadly, Williams passed at the age of 29 before he was able to make it right with the historic organization.
Since Williams was a legendary figure in country music, and still is today, many fans and Hank Williams III attempted to reinstate his membership to the Opry through a petition. However, Opry membership is only bestowed to the living artists of today, and membership lasts forever once instated.
Dan Rogers, the Grand Ole Opry’s vice president and executive producer, in a 2020 interview said:
“Hank Williams will always be a treasured past member of the Grand Ole Opry.
The Grand Ole Opry is made of living, breathing artists who can contribute to the show and to whom the Opry can give back.”
While many think his incident hindered Hank Williams Jr. from becoming a member, the real reason he is not a member of the Opry might shock you. Hank Williams Jr. never had aspirations of becoming a Grand Ole Opry member.
Williams Jr. claimed he held no grudges against the Opry for firing his father, but it was not his dream to follow in his dad’s footsteps of becoming a member. He noted that he grew up listening to a rhythm and blues station versus listening to listening to the Opry radio.
And while he maintains that he loves going to visit the Opry, and of course country music, his heart was always with the blues first and foremost. He even released a full blown blues album last year, titled Rich White Honky Blues.
And fun fact: Bocephus actually first performed at the Grand Ole Opry when he was just 11 years old.
The country music hall of famer is a legend of his own and still is achieving major successes without being a member. So, while the Opry is the dream destination for most artists, the beauty of county music is that the vast array of artists leads to a wide variety of dreams and goals.
Take a second to listen to “The Conversation,” where Williams Jr. sings about how heartbreaking it was for his father to be fired from the Opry.
Hank Williams Jr. Returns To The Opry After Over 20 Years To Pay Tribute To Waylon Jennings
This must’ve been one hell of a show.
Back in 2002, Hank Williams Jr. returned to the Grand Ole Opry stage at the Ryman Auditorium after more than 20 years to pay tribute to his friend, the late, great Waylon Jennings, just after his death three days prior.
Travis Tritt and Marty Stuart were also part of the tribute, and they assisted on the guitar and mandolin, respectively, as Hank Jr. sang his song “Eye’s of Waylon”. A solo write by Hank Jr., it was included on his 1995 46th studio album, Hog Wild.
Of course, the two were friends for years, and Hank Jr. always looked up to Waylon as one of his biggest inspirations and musical heroes.
They even collaborated on a song called “The Conversation” (about Hank Sr.) for his classic 1979 album Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound, which was later rereleased on Waylon’s 1983 album Waylon and Company.
This will easily be the best five minutes of your day:
And while we’re on the subject, check out this three minutes of late-70’s cinematic greatness featuring two country icons: