COUNTRY music megastar Hank Williams was a drinkin’, fightin’, hard-livin’ dude. He recorded 225 songs in a fleeting but influential five-year career – including the long and whining ode Your Cheatin’ Heart – but by all accounts he wasn’t much of a conversationalist.
This could explain why college student Charles Carr, who he had hired to drive him to a gig in his beautiful 1952 Cadillac convertible, didn’t notice Hank had died in the back seat for so long that rigor mortis had set in by the time he grabbed his cold, dead hand to check for a pulse.
Williams had been booked to play a show on New Year’s Eve 1952 but couldn’t make it due to an ice storm, so he hired Carr to drive him to another gig the next day in Canton, Ohio.
Williams, who had combined a few beers in the back seat with some pain-killing injections of vitamins and morphine, was writing a song in the car at one stage, but seems to have keeled over, suddenly and silently.
An estimated four hours later, Carr pulled over in Oak Hill, West Virginia, and found 29-year-old Williams unresponsive in the back; when he tried to lift his hand it was cold, and snapped back into place.
An autopsy later determined the cause of death to be “insufficiency of the right ventricle of the heart”, but there has long been controversy and suspicion over his demise, with some suggesting he may have been done in by a Carr, in a car.
The Hank Williams Death Car is on e of the star attractions at a museum bearing his name in his a dopted home town of Montgomery, Alabama. No one is allowed to take photographs, or to touch th e ba ck seat.
Williams died wearing something called a Nudie Suit, which is described as resembling a superhero outfit, or a jumpsuit. And you thought Elvis dressed badly.