Family Matters: The Larger-Than Life Legacy of the Hank Williams Family

The proverbial “they” often say, “it must run in the family,” and that “the apple never falls far from the tree.” Whether we like it or not, our families affect how we face the world—at least to some degree. To put it more succinctly, family matters.

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Regarding music, familial ties often become sources of inspiration or motivation. Just as you may pass on your green thumb or how you inherited your mother’s ability to catch a lie, so too do musicians pass along their sonic know-how. So, to take a closer look at a specific example of a musical family, let’s take a look at the legacy that Hank Williams’ family has created.

Like father like son like grandson like great-grandson, right?

Hank Williams

The songs Hank Williams created can be found in the bedrock of today’s country music. It was penning and performing songs like “Hey, Good Lookin’,” “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” “Honky Tonk Blues,” and “I Saw The Light” that endeared him to listeners and earned him the affectionate nickname “The Hillbilly Shakespeare.” Ultimately, Williams’ career would abruptly end in 1953 with his death at 29 years old, but his legacy would linger for generations afterward.

Hank Williams Jr.

Hank Williams Jr., the son of Hank Williams and Audrey Sheppard Williams, has not only honored his father’s legacy but created his own. Early in his career, Jr. performed similarly to a Hank Williams impersonator in the sense that he mostly performed his father’s tunes. But, around the time he was 18 years old, Jr. broke from that role and began to create his own music. Soon he was jamming out with southern rock musicians Waylon Jennings and Charlie Daniels to create his own hits. Both Williams and Jr. are members of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Hank Williams III

Shelton Hank Williams was born on December 12, 1972, to parents Hank Williams Jr. and Gwen Yeargain. As the first son of the third generation of Williamses, Shelton entered the family business as soon as he was able to pick up a pair of drumsticks. And after playing on the punk rock scene for a few years, Shelton picked up his family name and began to release solo music as Hank Williams III.

A fun side note: One of Hank Williams’ friends, Minnie Pearl, saw Shelton with some frequency during her life, and on one occasion, remarked that his resemblance to his grandfather was so uncanny that he looked like “a ghost.”

Hilary Williams

Hilary, Jr. and Becky White’s daughter, possesses many of the natural talents found in her family’s line. Unfortunately, Hilary also dealt with severe health issues after surviving a horrific 2006 car crash with her younger sister Holly. Her triumphant return from this crash, though, inspired her 2018 album titled My Lucky Scars.

Holly Williams

Next up, is Holly Williams, who is a singer/songwriter in her own right with three studio albums out to date. The Ones We Never Knew (2004), Here with Me (2009), and The Highway (2013) were all well received by critics, but Holly didn’t stop there. She has also tapped into her visual creativity by starting two successful retail stores—the women’s boutique, H.Audrey, and the shop White’s Mercantile.

“Coming from a family of so many creative talents is a reminder for me to always stay true to my artistic vision—whether that comes in the form of a new album, a retail venture, an old house renovation, or a fresh take on a really good roasted chicken,” Holly stated on her official website.

Sam Williams

Rounding out the musical line of Jr.’s children is Sam Williams. (His mother is Mary Jane Thomas.) Sam never met his grandfather, but he’s embraced his family legacy despite running from it at first. “There’s a lot of pain burned in my DNA,” Sam says on his artist website. “But pain can be a beautiful thing if you know how to deal with it.”

In addition to his children—Jett Williams is also a singer/songwriter and daughter of Hank Williams—and his grandchildren, Hank Williams now has great-grandchildren who are beginning to dip their toes into the music world. We’ve already heard rumblings from Shelton’s son, Coleman Finchum, who performs under the sobriquet “IV.”

Clearly, the Williams’ legacy is one nearly impossible to detangle from country music.

Reserve your spot at the Hank Williams Jr. tour! Tickets are selling fast—get yours before they’re gone.

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