Sixty-five years ago this month, a wound opened up in country music history that has yet to heal: Hank Williams was fired from the Grand Ole Opry.
On August 11th, 1952, the country music legend was notified that he was no longer employed by the hugely popular radio show, which also booked artists on wide-ranging tours around the country.
Williams had missed an appearance two days earlier, and it wasn’t the first time. A heavy drinker caught up in a barely-understood addiction to painkillers, the singer’s behavior had becoming increasingly erratic.
The Opry has always said they never intended Williams’ removal to be permanent. Rather, it was meant as a wake-up call for the troubled artist. But in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day 1953, Williams died in the backseat of a car on his way to a show in West Virginia.
Today, many continue to hope that Williams’ name will return to the Opry. The Reinstate Hank campaign was started by his grandson, Hank III, and encourages fans to sign an online petition.