This was an amazing book for me to read, given that Hank Williams was my first musical hero and Elvis was my second.
It is very much the story of the Hayride’s star making program vs the Opry’s established stars only.
Hank Williams lurched from one to the other, his alcoholism making his Opry cred rise and fall, but he seemed to find a better home at the Hayride.
Elvis bombed at the Opry, but his star rose on the Hayride.
For me, the saddest part of the book was Hank’s wife – who saw Hank off on his last tour from a street corner in Louisiana and a few years later, she saw her second husband, Johnny Horton off on his final tour – he was killed by a drunk driver.
But the most baffling part was that she also refused to allow Elvis to play Hank in a movie biopic because she felt Elvis was vulgar and uncouth.
Imagine what a difference that could have made, not only to her finances, since the Hank movie ended up shelved until the 1970s – but to Elvis as an artist and to his acting career.
Maybe, if he had played Hank, his own life wouldn’t have taken the same essential path.