LIVING PROOF: An Autobiography by

LIVING PROOF: An Autobiography

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KIRKUS REVIEW

As you might guess, it's been hard being the son. of legendary C & W singer Hank Williams: little Hank was four when Hank died (booze, pills), and ""I grew up surrounded by the myth, and I accepted my place in it. What else could I do?"" Pushed by his mother -- Hank's cast-off, celebrity-mad first wife -- little Hank learned his father's songs and mannerisms, premiered at the Grand Ole Opry at eleven, appeared on Ed Sullivan, recorded the soundtrack for Hank Sr.'s film bio, went on the road with ""The Cheatin' Heart Special"" and Johnny Cash. But soon the crowd started rebelling against Hank Jr.'s ghoulish exploitation -- ""Enough, they said, is enough. What are they going to do next, the reviews asked, take the coffin on tour?"" And Hank himself wanted to write his own stuff, to blend with rock like other country singers; plus, he had rotten luck with sexy women. So, pressured by Nashville's ""factory mentality,"" he started to follow Hank Sr. into booze/pill city: ""That's country music, folks, and that's what killed my father and almost killed me."" Still, Hank tried hard to do his own music -- and then Fate stepped in to give his rebirth a boost: a near-fatal climbing accident in the Rockies. (The whole story is narrated while a mauled Hank recovers in a hospital bed.) Yes, after that brush with death, he got religion, a better woman, and is pursuing a career unshadowed by Hank Sr. ""I'll tell you one thing for certain: I'm not going to die a broke, drunk country singer."" A tale with inspiration potential -- but, though Hank's childhood offers a kernel of genuine nightmare, most of his story here is drowned in a self-pity (""You want to know about pain? Pain is. . ."") that's short on perspective (he's only 29). So, ironically, Hank Jr. will have to depend on Hank Sr.'s following to supply most readers for this frank but whiny memoir.

Pub Date: Oct. 24th, 1979
Publisher: Putnam