Hank Williams had a rough time in his life, and for that reason, he didn’t exactly have a squeaky-clean image. After a hunting accident left him with chronic pain, Williams turned to drugs and alcohol to find relief. In addition to all the health problems this created for Williams, it also created a career problem. On August 11, 1952– exactly 65 years ago today– he was dismissed from the Grand Ole Opry for his “habitual drunkenness.”
The Grand Ole Opry has always been a family-friendly institution, and apparently, they’d had enough of Hank Williams’ inappropriate behavior. He had missed shows and performed poorly after showing up drunk numerous times. The Opry put their foot down, and Williams was banned from performing there again.
Williams isn’t the only artist in history who’s been banned from the Grand Ole Opry. In fact, another country music legend was banned for a reason similar to Williams’: Johnny Cash. After he destroyed stage lights in a drunken rage one night in 1965, the Opry banned him from performing.
Johnny Cash’s ban had a happy ending, and after his recovery from substance abuse, was invited back to play the Grand Ole Opry again. He became one of the most revered members of the Opry, and even hosted events for the organization. Unfortunately, Hank Williams’ story had no such happy ending. Williams died in January of 1953, less than six months after he was banned from the Opry stage.
Although he never had a chance to redeem himself at the Grand Ole Opry, Hank Williams still left an undeniable mark on country music that is still apparent today.