9 things to know about Hank Williams Jr., who’s turning 72

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Happy birthday to Hank Williams Jr., who turned 72 years old Wednesday.

Here are nine things to know about the singer-songwriter:

1. Randall Hank Williams Jr. was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, on May 26, 1949, one month before his father made his Grand Ole Opry debut with “Lovesick Blues,” which drew six encores.


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2. Hank Williams Sr. gave his son his nickname, “Bocephus,” after Grand Ole Opry comedian Rod Brasfield’s ventriloquist dummy. During radio performances, he would send a message to his namesake, closing shows by saying, “Don’t worry, Bocephus, I’m coming home.” Williams Sr. died at age 29 when his son was 3 years old.

NASHVILLE, TN – JUNE 03: Singer-songwriter Hank Williams Jr. attends the Stanley Cup Finals Game 3 Nashville Predators Vs. Pittsburgh Penguins at Bridgestone Arena on June 3, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN – JUNE 10: Singer-songwriter Hank Williams Jr. performs onstage during 2016 CMA Festival – Day 2 at Nissan Stadium on June 10, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN – MARCH 16: Hank Williams Jr. and Kris Kristofferson hug while Lisa Kristofferson looks on at The Life & Songs of Kris Kristofferson produced by Blackbird Presents at Bridgestone Arena on March 16, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Essential Broadcast Media)
NASHVILLE, TN – DECEMBER 31: Hank Williams, Jr. performs at the Fifth annual New Year’s Eve Bash on Broadway on December 31, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN – DECEMBER 31: Hank Williams, Jr. (hand detail/guitar detail) performs at the Fifth annual New Year’s Eve Bash on Broadway on December 31, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN – DECEMBER 31: Hank Williams, Jr. performs at the Fifth annual New Year’s Eve Bash on Broadway on December 31, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images)
INDIO, CA – APRIL 26: Musician Hank Williams Jr. performs at day 1 of the 2013 Stagecoach California’s Country Music Festival at The Empire Polo Club on April 26, 2013 in Indio, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Stagecoach)
NASHVILLE, TN – APRIL 16: Hank Williams Jr, Sheryl Crow, and Eric Church backstage during Keith Urban’s Fourth annual We’re All For The Hall benefit concert at Bridgestone Arena on April 16, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum)
NASHVILLE, TN – JUNE 07: Brad Paisley is joined by special guest Hank Williams Jr. during the 2012 CMA Music Festival – Day 1 at LP Field on June 7, 2012 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN – JUNE 06: Hank Williams Jr. performs onstage at the 2012 CMT Music awards the Bridgestone Arena on June 6, 2012 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Sara Kauss/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN – MAY 12: Alan Jackson, Robin Meade, and Hank Williams Jr. attend Music Builds: the CMT Disaster Relief Concert on May 12, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for CMT)
NASHVILLE, TN – NOVEMBER 09: (L-R) Del Gray, Greg Martin, Doug Phelps, Fred Young, Elaine Roy, Lee Roy, Josh Thompson, Colt Ford, Hank Williams Jr., Travis Tritt, Jamey Johnson, Kid Rock and Richard Young attend the launch party for Popcorn Sutton’s Tennessee White Whiskey at the Marathon Building on November 9, 2010 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN – NOVEMBER 09: (L-R) Elaine Roy, Lee Roy, Josh Thompson, Colt Ford, Hank Williams Jr., Travis Tritt, Jamey Johnson, Kid Rock and Richard Young attend the launch party for Popcorn Sutton’s Tennessee White Whiskey at the Marathon Building on November 9, 2010 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN – NOVEMBER 09: Singer Tanya Tucker and musician Hank Williams Jr. attend the launch party for Popcorn Sutton’s Tennessee White Whiskey at the Marathon Building on November 9, 2010 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN – NOVEMBER 09: (L-R) Travis Tritt, Hank Williams Jr., Martina McBride and Kid Rock attend the launch party for Popcorn Sutton’s Tennessee White Whiskey at the Marathon Building on November 9, 2010 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN – JUNE 09: Tim McGraw, Hank Williams Jr. and Kid Rock attend the 2010 CMT Music Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on June 9, 2010 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN – NOVEMBER 09: Hosts Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood speak with Hank Williams Jr. at the 45th annual CMA Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on November 9, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN – JUNE 23: Hank Williams Jr. performs for the taping of the opening segment of the 40th Anniversary of Monday Night Football at Centennial Park outside the Parthenon on June 23, 2009 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN – JUNE 22: Hank Williams Jr. chats with extras during a break from taping the opening of the 40th Anniversary of Monday Night Football at Centennial Park in the Parthenon on June 22, 2009 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN – OCTOBER 27: Hank Williams Jr. sings the National Anthem prior to the game between the Indianapolis Colts against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on October 27, 2008 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans defeated the Colts 31-21. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS – OCTOBER 06: Singer Hank Williams Jr. attends the start of the New Orleans Saints and the Minnesota Vikings on October 6, 2008 at the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN – APRIL 10: Singers Hank Williams Jr. and his daughter Holly Williams arrive at the 2006 CMT Music Awards at the Curb Event Center at Belmont University April 10, 2006 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images)
Ronnie Dunn, Hank Williams Jr. and Eddie Montgomery backstage at the Country Freedom Concert in Nashville, Tennesee on October 21, 2001 . Photo by Gabe Palacio/ImageDirect
12th April 1972: American country singing star, Hank Williams Jnr, with his wife Gwen, in London for the International Country Music Festival. (Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images)

3. Raised in Nashville, Williams Jr. learned music from Earl Scruggs, who gave him banjo lessons, and Jerry Lee Lewis, who showed him piano licks. He made his own Opry debut at age 11, singing “Lovesick Blues” just like his father.

4. He attended John Overton High School in Nashville.

5. In 1975, he was nearly killed in a fall from the side of Ajax Mountain in Montana. He was disfigured and underwent multiple surgeries and a lengthy recovery period, from which he emerged determined to succeed outside of his father’s shadow.

6. After the accident, Williams grew a beard and began wearing sunglasses and a cowboy hat, which have become his signature look.


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7. In 1989, he re-worked his hit song “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight” into a theme song for ABC’s Monday Night Football. Hank would become the singing voice of Monday Night Football for 22 years until ESPN pulled the song in 2011 after he made an analogy involving President Barack Obama and Adolf Hitler. Soon afterward, Williams apologized for the “dumb statement.” ESPN eventually brought back the song in 2017 only to pull it again in 2020 over concerns that it conveyed a confusing message amid the pandemic, reported the Sports Business Journal.

8. His daughter, Katherine Williams-Dunning, died in a crash in Henry County on June 13, 2020, at age 27.

9. He was elected into the Country Music Hall of Fame in August 2020.

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