Born in Shreveport, Louisiana in 1949, Hank Williams Jr. always had to live up to the enormous musical legacy of his late, great father, Hank Williams, Sr. Although Hank Jr. was only six years old when his hard-drinking father drank himself to death on New Year's Eve 1953, he was around him long enough during those early, formative years to absorb and internalize enough musical talent to carry on what his father had started once he came of age.
Hank Sr.'s widow, Audrey, noticed her son's musical prowess, and started him on the country music circuit performing his father's songs as early as age 11. By the time he was 17 (in 1964), he had a record deal with MGM (Hank Sr.'s label), doing an entire album of his father's classic hits. He also provided the music for his father's biopic, Your Cheatin' Heart. Hank Jr. kept up the tribute act for a few more years before emerging with his own music on the record Standing in the Shadows. Although he managed to make a living as a musician for the next seven or eight years, Hank Jr. had to moonlight as a rock 'n' roller with a band called Rockin' Randall and the Rockets in order to stay afloat financially.
By the mid-1970s, he had developed a number of friendships with members the Southern rock scene—Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Allman Brothers, the Charlie Daniels Band and The Marshall Tucker Band—who had already been fusing country music and rock 'n' roll. He recorded Hank Williams Jr. & Friends with many of the members from those groups and made his own successful country/rock fusion record. Then in 1975, he nearly died when he fell 442 feet down the side of the rocky mountain he was trying to climb during a vacation in Montana. After two years of rehabilitation and constructive facial surgery, he returned to the music scene.
He released The New South in 1977, and aligned himself with the "outlaw" country music scene spearheaded by Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, and Willie Nelson. The album was a huge smash, and jumpstarted Hank Jr. on a streak of over 30 Top 10 country hits that included "All My Rowdy Friends (Are Coming Over Tonight)," "My Name Is Bocephus," "Dixie On My Mind," "Whiskey Bent And Hell Bound" and a sassy re-make of the Fats Waller 1935 classic "Ain't Misbehavin."
Hank Williams Jr. remains among the most popular recording acts on the country music scene today.