Watch 14-Year-Old Hank Williams Jr. Make TV Debut With Father’s 1950 Hit, “Long Gone Lonesome Blues”

Hank Williams Jr. country music
The Jimmy Dean Show

Taking it back to the beginning.

Much like the name Dale Earnhardt and his son Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the racing world, when you think of country music, it’s hard not to immediately think Hank Williams, as well as his son, Hank Williams Jr.

Of course ol’ Hank is iconic as anybody to every pick up a guitar and sing country music, but ol’ Bocephus was, and still is, quite the powerhouse himself.

Throughout the ’70s, ’80s and early ’90s, nobody was cranking out music like Hank Jr., sometimes putting out two or three albums in a single year. He’s a five time Entertainer of the Year winner (both ACMs and CMAs), Grammy winner, and member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

He recently released a blues project, Rich White Honky Blues, which debuted at #1 on the Country, Americana, and Blues charts. A bluesman at heart, Hank Jr.’s father Hank Williams Sr. was taught to play guitar as a small child by a bluesman named Rufus “Tee-Tot” Payne, so this project was a return to his roots.

But speaking of his roots, let’s take it all the way back to the early ’60s when Hank Jr. was just 14 years old. In 1964, Hank Jr. made his first television appearance of his career on ABC’s The Jimmy Dean Show. Already standing over 6 feet, the youngster performed a number of his dad’s hits, including “Long Gone Lonesome Blues.”

When Jimmy introduced Hank Jr., he called Hank Sr. his favorite songwriter:

“My favorite songwriter, I think I would have to say Hank Williams. He wrote with a lot of heart, he was a fine performer… we are delighted to have his son with us, and we’d like you to give a nice, warm welcome to Mr. Hank Williams Jr.”

Written and released by Hank Williams in 1950, “Long Gone Lonesome Blues,” was his second-career #1 single on the Country & Western Charts. Hank Jr. would release a cover himself in 1964, and that would go on to peak at #5 of the chart.

And the rest is history…

Hank Williams Jr. On The Pressure To Be Like His Father: “It Was Driving Me Crazy”

I can’t imagine the pressure that comes with being a famous person’s child.

Especially when the famous person passed away at a young age, and the child is expected to fill the parent’s shoes and continue the legacy, just like Hank Williams Jr. had to do. As most know, Hank Williams passed away when he was only 29-years-old due to a long battle with alcohol and drug abuse, when Hank Jr. was only three-years-old.

As soon as Hank Jr. turned five, he was pressured by his mother, Audrey Williams, and the rest of the country music world to become exactly like his father, and become the next Hank Williams.

In an ABC 20/20 segment with Barbara Walters back in 1987, Hank Jr. detailed the struggles he faced while always being compared to his father growing up.

“It was always ‘Your daddy went through this stuff, and you’ll have to go through it. We have to go through these things (booze and drugs)’ ya know… depression, that’s a big sport to a lot of these people I think. It was just drilled into me a lot.”

He discussed how he was already playing shows and covering his father’s songs at an incredibly young age:

“I was on the road when I was eight. When they came to see an eight to 10 year old it wasn’t for his wonderful voice, it was because he was the son of Hank Williams.

They were trying to give me a drink when I was 10 or 12, you know saying ‘Hey give ol’ Hank a little drink here,’ the old steel player and everything.”

He was then asked if anybody ever told him he wasn’t supposed to drink and take pills, and he responded:

“No, the road wasn’t ever like that. I grew up quick… I was in the hospital several times, all the way out. The pills, you know, the whiskey, and the whole thing. I was really rolling in it.

I thought I was gonna die a couple times and it scared the heck out of me.”

He also weighed in on the pressure he felt from fans to be like his father, and if it didn’t sound exactly like his father sounded, he would take heat for it:

“They’d be like ‘Sing Hey Good Lookin’,’ and I’d just be like, ‘well I just sang it, you were just so drunk you didn’t hear it or I’m just gonna do this other one.'”

“Oh you little sore, your daddy would have…”

“So that didn’t go over too good… I punched one of ’em, in Salt Lake City and boy that felt good. It was driving me crazy.

I had a psychiatrist tell me he said, ‘Hey you’ve been living, talk like, act like, be like, sing like your daddy, your lifestyles exactly like his, and you’re gonna be gone too.’

I said ‘To hell with this, I’m not putting up with this crap.'”

That’s when he decided at the age of 26 to go a completely different direction with his country music career, and become his own person, transforming into the Hank Jr. we all know and love, taking his influence from the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis and Ray Charles.

He began to pursue a different sound that mixed together southern rock, the blues, and country music all into one.

Nevertheless, it truly is hard to fathom the amount of pressure he felt on the daily growing up to become a spitting image of his father… but despite that pressure, he emerged a legend in his own right.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock