SPECIAL NOTE: For those landing here from a search, this is to let y0u know that I did a post on the new major motion picture on Hank’s life which was announced August 2009. It’s here.
AND, Here’s my post on the latest news on the film ‘The Last Ride’ being filmed in central Arkansas. (February 19, 2010)
The Register Herald newspaper in Beckley West Virginia is reporting that a film about Hank Williams life including his final days is in pre production. I hope the author and producers look at the tragic nature of that last lonley trip. Why did everybody let him down so badly?
Jeff Queen a Deputy Sheriff from Auburn Alabama plans to call the movie ‘Lonesome Cowboy’. He’s hoping to get production underway by the end of the year, and will film some scenes in West Virginia. The paper reports:
“We want to tell the real story,” says Queen, who helps keep law and order in the same town that is home to his beloved Crimson Tide.
“Just like they did in ‘Walk the Line’ with Johnny Cash’s addictions. But we certainly don’t want to tabloidize anything. We just want to tell it from the heart as real as we can make it — the good, the bad, everything in between.”
Queen drew his inspiration from “Hank,” a biography written by Ralph Moore in Lineville, Ala., a stalwart fan, one of many who have made several excursions into southern West Virginia seeking support for a Williams museum.
Queen says 22 year old Christopher Malpass is being looked at to play the title role in the film which Queen hopes can be used to boost tourism in Alabama.
The mythical status of Hank Williams is certainly well illustrated by this continuing interest in West Virginia and the area around Oak Hill where Hank’s lifeless body was found in the back of his Cadillac on New Years eve as he was being driven to a concert in Canton Ohio.
He was accompanied only by a teenaged driver, Charles Carr, who had just turned 18.
I’m not an expert on Hank Williams’ death and his final days and the multitude of details, some disputed, which have been published about that unfinished trip from Montgomery to Canton. There have been a lot of tales and rumours published about those final days some probably more verifiable than others.
But you don’t need to know anything about the details of the journey to ask the really important question: Why was Hank ALONE?
A superstar with just a teenaged kid driving him across America, heading north in the dead of winter. No one could fault the youngster in any way, but in every real important way, Hank Williams made this journey alone.
Here we are in 2009 and music stars have entourages, body guards, handlers, flacks, public relations and media reps and whatever, all offering layers of protection and eating up their money.
Now we all know it was far different in late 1952.
I’m not blaming anybody, and my knowledge like most fans is limited. But where were friends, family, MGM Records, Acuff Rose publications, even the Opry which had recently fired Hank?
In those days stars traveled with their bands and in this case Don Helms of the ‘Drifting Cowboys’ was going to meet Hank in Canton, and Jerry Rivers was stopped by bad weather. But I’ll say it again, I still can’t beleive he was allowed to travel that distasnce for all intents and purposes alone.
I know Hank Williams experts, and I am certainly not one of those, will have a thousand explanations as to why this happened. First of course was the weather, which disrupted the original plan to fly to Canton. Then of course there is Hank’s continuing back pain and ill health and his addictions and demons. He probably wanted fewer people around and less busy bodies to interfere with what had become his tragic lifestyle.. Carr,I suppose, was somebody who could not argue or talk back.
But I can’t imagine Eddy Arnold or George Morgan, Hank Snow, Bill Monroe or imagine even a Frank Sinatra, or Bing Crosby on the road like this alone. Never.
I hope the film can capture his triumphant life and the lonely tragedy that engulfed Hank Williams in his final days.
I checked my small collections of biographies in writing this:
Jerry Rivers, 1967, ‘From Life to Legend’
Jay Caress, 1979, ‘Hank Williams, County Music’s Tragic King’
Colin Escott, 1994, ‘Hank Williams, The Biography’
Paul Hemphill, 2005, ‘Lovesick Blues, The Life of Hank Williams’
I find after you read this stuff you have to go back to the records for a while to get your head straight again and restore your belief in the majesty of his achievement.
The Newspaper article is here.