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There is no C&W artist as esteemed as Hank Williams, whose mournful songs of heartbreak and upbeat songs of good-time honky-tonkin' have influenced three generations of classic country stars, rock & rollers and alt-country rebels. He accomplished so much in his 29 years that it's hard to believe the Alabama-born Williams did much of anything but write songs and sing. Beginning with his first hit, 1949's "Lovesick Blues," Williams and his steel guitar-driven Drifting Cowboys created a style of honky-tonk country that would pervade the genre for a decade. His songs are perhaps the best known in all of country music: "Hey, Good Lookin'," "Your Cheating Heart," "Jambalaya," "Cold, Cold Heart" (which crossed over to the pop charts when Tony Bennett covered it), "I Can't Help It If I'm Still in Love With You" and "I Saw the Light," to name a few. After Williams' premature death on New Year's Eve 1952, his legacy continued to grow, beginning with the posthumous release "I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive."

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