It must feel like a gift and a bit of a curse to be the son of one of modern music's greatest and best-known musicians. Hank Williams Jr. would know. He's had his fair share of struggles but also, as he told us in the following interview, plenty of opportunities from a very young age and a lot of which to be proud.
The outspoken and often controversial musician has plenty to say about your government, but he's also crafted some classic country tunes and has a massive fan base. He's performing this upcoming weekend seaside at the Tortuga Music Festival on Fort Lauderdale Beach. We wondered if he shared Tortuga's mission to save the oceans and what other causes are close to his heart. His answers may surprise you.
You performed in Houston for the Concert for Conservation. And Tortuga is another concert that supports marine conservation. Is this an issue that's close to your heart?
You know, I only do 25 shows a year, so I am not always thinking about the cause, more thinking about where my fans are and how I can perform for those that have supported my career for so long. I own lots of land in four states, so I do want our land and lakes to be the best they can for our next generation, but it is not a specific cause that I champion.
What causes do you champion?
I am a supporter of our military and those that fight for our freedom. That is the biggest and most important thing that I support. I have been very outspoken about issues that our country is going through and always show my support for our military. Without the freedoms that we are granted, we would not be able to have this conversation... Freedom of press!
Your life must be filled with music. Any best musical memories? Do you have moments where you wish you'd done something that didn't involve music?
Remember, Daddy died when I was 3 years old, and Momma put me out on the Grand Ole Opry stage at the age of 8. I really don't know anything else and cannot imagine doing anything else. Everyone from Jerry Lee to Fats Domino to Johnny and June were over at Momma's house as I was growing up, so those are many of the folks that I learned how to play and perform from. Those memories are great!
How close do you get to your fans? What song do fans tell you they most relate to?
If it was not for the fans, I would not have had the career that I have had. I have the most loyal, hard-core fans in this business. I only do 25 shows, and they show up wherever I am playing. I still have a fan club, and we send out a newsletter and offer fun things for them.
Most fans that I meet tell me that "A Country Boy Can Survive" is what they relate to. When I write songs, I don't write for anyone particularly. I write what just comes out on that piece of paper; sometimes they are smash hits, while other times they are not. Many of my songs are about the common man, something everyday people can relate to. I think that is why my music has transcended generations.
What's your proudest moment as a musician? And what about as a father or son?
I get lots of awards, and those are nice, but the best satisfaction is hearing a song you wrote hit the airwaves and become a hit single. That means the fans like it and are asking for it. As a father, I am very proud of Holly, Hilary, Shelton (Hank III), Katie, and Sam. They have all done great at what they set out to do.
Tortuga Music Festival, Fort Lauderdale Beach, on Saturday, April 12. Tickets cost $165 for general admission for both days, $799 for VIP admission, and $1,299 for super VIP admission. Visit tortugamusicfestival.com.