Country Music Hall of Fame 2020 Class: Hank Williams Jr., Marty Stuart - Rolling Stone
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Hank Williams Jr., Marty Stuart Set for Country Music Hall of Fame

Songwriter Dean Dillon rounds out the 2020 class of inductees

Hank Williams Jr, Country Music Hall of Fame

Hank Williams Jr., who brought rock to country in the Eighties, is among the 2020 inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Rick Diamond/Getty Images

Hank Williams Jr., Marty Stuart, and songwriter Dean Dillon are the 2020 class of inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame. The Country Music Association made the announcement on Wednesday morning.

Williams will fill the “Veterans Era Artist” slot, Stuart will be inducted as the “Modern Era Artist,” and Dillon in the “Songwriter” category, which rotates every three years with the “Non-Performer” and “Recording and/or Touring Musician” inductees.

Williams’ induction comes nearly 60 years after his father — the still influential Hank Williams — was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Known to fans by the nickname “Bocephus,” Hank Jr. emerged from the shadow of his dad’s towering legacy to create his own brash, rock-influenced version of country music. In 1975, he survived a nearly 500-foot fall off Ajax Mountain in Montana to release his career-changing Hank Williams Jr. and Friends album. Four years later, he hit his stride, launching a string of hits beginning with “Family Tradition,” and including “Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound,” “All My Rowdy Friends (Have Settled Down),” “A Country Boy Can Survive,” “Country State of Mind,” and the self-referential “Born to Boogie.” Williams released the studio album It’s About Time in 2016.

“Bocephus has been eyeing this one for awhile. It’s a bright spot during a difficult year,” Williams said in a statement.

Stuart, a native of Philadelphia, Mississippi, got his start playing guitar in Lester Flatt’s group at the age of 13. He’d go on to join Johnny Cash’s band and form a bond with the country legend, before striking out on his own. Still, collaborations would figure prominently into his career: he recorded and toured often with Travis Tritt, delivering hits like “This One’s Gonna Hurt You (For a Long, Long Time)” and “Honky Tonkin’s What I Do Best.” Stuart also earned a reputation as a country music preservationist — he literally owns hundreds of pieces of memorabilia. But it’s his mastery of guitar and mandolin and his commitment to traditional country music that makes him such a valued Nashville presence. His 2017 album Way Out West, with his longtime band the Superlatives, is a cosmic-country trip.

“It is the ultimate honor in Country Music,” Stuart said. “I’m so honored to be included in this class and I’m honored to be included alongside Hank Jr. and Dean Dillon. I love those people. To be officially inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame is beyond words. I’m usually not at a loss for words.”

The songwriter Dillon is best known for his work with George Strait, who has turned Dillon cuts like “The Chair,” “Ocean Front Property,” and “If I Know Me” into timeless country hits. He’s also written songs for David Allan Coe (“Tennesee Whiskey”), Vern Gosdin (“Set ‘Em Up Joe”), and Toby Keith (“A Little Too Late”). Dillon is also a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.

The new class will be officially inducted at the traditional Medallion Ceremony later this year. In light of the ongoing pandemic, details are pending on the format it may take.

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