Johnny Cash and Hank Williams, Sr. were never ones to behave. In fact, they’re almost as well-known for their antics as they are for their music. But it turns out that even outlaws can go too far.
The Night the Lights Went Out at The Opry
According to Taste of Country, it wasn’t artistic license at work when the character of Johnny Cash drunkenly smashed the Opry lights in the film Walk the Line.
In fact, in 1965, an intoxicated Cash did just that.
CBS News recalled Cash’s comments about the incident:
“I don’t know how bad [The Opry] wanted me in the first place, but the night I broke all the lights on the stage with the microphone stand, they said they couldn’t use me anymore. So I left and used that as an excuse to really get wild and wound up in the hospital with my third time I broke my nose.”
That wasn’t the low point of his addiction. But Cash famously turned his life around with the help of his wife and musical partner, June Carter Cash.
The Opry forgave him and eventually let him back. Unfortunately, the tale of Hank, Sr. did not end as well.
No Show Williams
The title of “No-Show” usually goes to country legend George Jones. However, Williams’ missed appearances are the reason for his Opry firing.
According to Rolling Stone, he missed his performance on August 9, 1952. And it wasn’t the first time. Two days later he was notified that he was no longer employed by the Opry.
The article describes how Williams (like Cash) struggled with alcoholism and pain-killer addiction. (Pain-killer addiction was not well-understood at the time.)
Also, the Opry didn’t intend to fire him permanently. They report the Opry’s firing as a “wake-up call for a troubled artist.” However, on New Year’s Day 1953, Williams died in a car accident.
He never made amends with the Opry.
This wound in country music has not closed to this day. Williams’ grandson Hank III has an online petition to have his grandfather posthumously reinstated at the Opry.
It seems that no matter how famous you were, at least in those days, you could go too far!