Randall Hank Williams ("Bocephus" was his late father's fond nickname for him) was born May 26, 1949, a month before Hank Sr.'s landmark first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry, and he was 3 when the elder Williams died. At 8, he went on stage as Hank Williams Jr. with his father's songs, voice and mannerisms. He debuted on the Opry at age 11 and at 14 made his first hit record, a rendition of his father's "Long Gone Lonesome Blues." A year later, he sang all the songs on the soundtrack of Your Cheatin' Heart, Hank Sr.'s film biography. In his teens, he learned piano from Jerry Lee Lewis, appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show and performed for crowds of 20,000 people.
In 1969, he and Johnny Cash teamed up at Detroit's Cobo Hall for the largest-grossing country show to date, and in 1970, Williams signed the biggest recording contract in the history of MGM Records. But as much as he loved his father's legacy, he had grown weary of cloning his father and wanted to pursue his own musical identity.
In the early 1970s, Williams adopted a Southern rock side, easily heard in the 1975 album Hank Williams Jr. and Friends. That same year, he nearly died from falling off a Montana mountain and endured numerous surgeries to keep him alive. After moving to a new record label in 1979, he issued his signature classic, "Family Tradition," which referenced his famous father and their shared love for the wild side. He remained a staple of country music radio in the 1980s with hits like "Texas Women," "Dixie on My Mind," "All My Rowdy Friends (Have Settled Down)," "A Country Boy Can Survive" and "Born to Boogie." He won the CMA's entertainer trophy in 1987 and 1988. In 1989, he won his first (and only) Grammy for the duet with his father, "There's a Tear in My Beer," which borrowed Hank Sr.'s vocals from a vinyl record.
When the radio hits slowed down in the 1990s, Williams found notoriety by singing the opening theme for ABC's Monday Night Football. Alan Jackson turned Williams' song "The Blues Man" into a Top 40 hit in 2000. To this day, Williams remains a favorite among Southern rock fans.