Hank III was born Shelton Hank Williams on December 12, 1972. He plays the guitar, bass, drums, banjo and keyboard. He also sings and can actually yodel. His style alternates between country, punk and metal. He has a solo career, a band named Assjack, drummer for Arson Anthem and was bassist for Pantera singer Phil Anselmo‘s band, Superjoint Ritual.
For the most part, Hank III keeps his personal life personal and he doesn’t get involved in politics. His appearance bears an uncanny resemblance to his grandfather, Hank Williams Sr. He is tall, lanky, has a thin face and the exact facial characteristics as his granddaddy.
Hank III had to grow up with an absent father, Hank Williams Jr. Hank Jr. took to drinkin’, drugs, and womanizing. This left III dealing with parental divorce, moving a lot, dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, and drug and alcohol abuse. Living with his name hasn’t been easy either. Battling alcohol, drugs and his name is a constant in his life. Onstage, when he is brought a shot of whiskey, he takes it. He says, “I’ll always pick it up and shoot it right down. That will always get the biggest crowd response of the night. Then I’ll hold up the empty glass and say, ‘Thank you for applauding my addiction!’” Lots of people challenge his name and all he says is, “It’s right there on my birth certificate, I’m not a fake.”
Growing up, he found comfort in music. He began listening to KISS and Ted Nugent but later developed a taste for bands like the Dead Kennedys and the Misfits. As a teenager he was a drummer in the grunge bands Buzzkill, Bedwetter and Rift. He hardly ever talked about his family. “I cared about drumming and playing punk music. I hated country music with a passion. I hated any kind of music that was commercial. That was the enemy.”
Hank III has always been seen in thrift-shop clothes consisting of t-shirts and blue jeans. He’s never cared too much for outward appearances or money. Instead, he chooses to let his music speak for him. He’s NEVER seen a dime of the family fortune either. “I ain’t never seen no money from anyone, but I ain’t asked for it either.”, he said. His mom, Gwen Williams, was Hank Jr.’s second wife. They split up when III was very young. By age 11, he and his mom moved to Atlanta, Georgia. After the move, he barely saw his father. In an interview in 2000 he said, “I never saw him much. I can see why. He was drinkin’ and druggin’ and being with women-being Bocephus. I got to go out on the road with him a couple of times, but after a while you could tell he didn’t want me around, that I was gettin’ in his way.” Soon after Atlanta, they moved to North Carolina and by age 15 he was back in Nashville. He graduated high school at age 19 and moved in with a family friend after his mom moved to California.
At age 20 he was sued by a girl who claimed he got her pregnant when he was 17. He took a blood test and got a $24,000 judgement in court. He wasn’t making much money, $25 per show, but he did the right thing by his child. He knew he had to make more money though. He teamed up with Jack McFadden to set off a career. He paid the money the court ordered him to. This was the moment, after changing his hair, clothes and playing country music, that he changed his opinion about country music. Risin’ Outlaw, his debut album, sounds eerily identical to his grandfather. Reviews were good and both rock and country music lovers liked it.
In 1999 his family and friends, including Hank Jr. and Waylon Jennings, came together for an intervention. They persuaded him to enter a drug and alcohol rehab program. Rehab wasn’t very successful. He has said, “I finally just told Waylon and my dad, ‘Look, you have to give me time to max out. I’m just doing the same thing you fuckers did. I’m going to keep a limit on it a little bit.’”
Playing both rock and country truly makes him happy. He is glad to do both and says, “The good thing is the rock crowds like hearing me play rock and country. But the country crowds only want to hear country and that’s all. I can’t help it that the rock crowds are more open-minded–and the girls are prettier.” I found that funny as hell!
If you haven’t heard his music or much of it…you should!
Three Hanks: Men With Broken Hearts- the 3 generations of Williams men singing alongside one another
Thrown out of the Bar and Straight to Hell- Curb Records wouldn’t release Thrown out of the Bar and ended up in court. A judge ruled in III’s favor. They came to terms and it was reworked into Straight to Hell.
Damn Right Rebel Proud
Lovesick Broke & Driftin’
Assjack- a punk-metal album
Rebel Within- charted at #20 in Billboard Magazine
Curb Records released This Ain’t Country under the title Hillbilly Joker without the consent or imput from Hank III after his contract was terminated. III told his fans, “Don’t buy it, but get it some other way and burn the hell out of it and give it to everyone.”
Ghost to a Ghost/Gutter Town- a 2 disc country record
3 Bar Ranch Cattle Callin’
Attention Deficit Domination
Curb also released Long Gone Daddy after he was gone.
Brothers of the 4×4
A Fiendish Threat
I recently had the chance to go see Hank III. And let me tell ya, he sticks to what he says! He does his own thing and rocks out. He seems like such a down-to-Earth kinda guy who doesn’t take shit from anyone. He doesn’t follow trends or bow down to the music industry. Personally, I think this is the way we should all be…making our own path and holding our heads high.