Born on this day in Mount Olive, Alabama, was Hank Williams (born Hiram King Williams). The American singer-songwriter and musician is regarded as one of the most important country music artists of all time. Williams recorded 35 singles (five released posthumously) that would place in the Top 10 of the Billboard Country & Western Best Sellers chart, including 11 that ranked #1. During his last years Williams’s consumption of alcohol, morphine and painkillers severely compromised his professional life. Williams died aged 29 on January 1, 1953.
George Jones released “Why Baby Why” on Starday Records. It became Jones’ first chart single, following several unsuccessful singles released during the prior year when it peaked at #4 on the Billboard country charts.
Buck Owens and his Buckaroos were at #1 on the Country singles chart with “I’ve Got a Tiger by the Tail”. The song was one of Owens’ signature songs and showcases of the Bakersfield sound in the genre.
Lynn Anderson was at #1 on the country music album chart with You’re My Man, Anderson’s fourth studio album. The record was a #1 hit on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart for seven weeks, Anderson’s third (and to date, last) #1 on the chart. Produced by Anderson’s husband Glenn Sutton, the title song was Anderson’s second #1 record.
Reba McEntire made her Grand Ole Opry debut. She almost did not make it in the door after a guard at the Opry gate missed her name on the night’s list of performers. Her parents and older sister, Alice, drove 1,400 miles round trip from their Oklahoma home to see what turned out to be Reba’s three-minute performance that night.
Willie Nelson was at #1 on the Country charts with Always on My Mind. It was the Billboard #1 country album of the year for 1982, and stayed for 253 weeks on the Top Country Albums charts, peaking at #1 for a total of 22 weeks, as well as spending 99 weeks on the Billboard 200.
Alan Jackson was at #1 on the US County chart with A Lot About Livin’ (And a Little ’bout Love) his first #1 LP. The singles “Chattahoochee”, and “She’s Got the Rhythm (And I Got the Blues)” from the album were both #1 hits on the Hot Country Songs chart and the album won Academy of Country Music’ album of the year award.
Marvin Rainwater died aged 88. The American country and rockabilly singer and songwriter had several hits during the late 1950s, including “Gonna Find Me a Bluebird.”
Country music star George Hamilton IV died in Nashville, Tennessee at the age of 77. The singer and guitarist, who began performing as a teenager in the 1950s, had suffered a major heart attack a few days earlier. After an early foray into pop, Hamilton became a country stalwart, scoring 40 hits in the 1960s and 70s. He was inducted into Nashville’s Grand Old Opry in 1960 and continued to work until shortly before he was taken ill.