A “honky tonk” was slang for a bar in the Southeast, Deep South and Southwest that provided musical entertainment along with the alcohol it served its working-class patrons. Though early “honky tonk” music was a rhythmic cousin of ragtime, in the early ’40s musicians such as ERNEST TUBB transformed it into a hard-driving form of country music that became the soundtrack of these mainly urban establishments. In the late ’40s and early ’50s Alabama-born HANK WILLIAMS had a string of honky tonk hits like his “Honky Tonk Blues,” taking the genre to a mass audience. Unfortunately Williams lived the rough life of which he sang; Williams died in 1953 at the age of 29 as the result of heart failure due to alcohol and drug abuse.
[Watch Ernest Tubb perform “Walking the Floor Over You” in 1961. Do note the awesome outfit. | Learn a bit about Williams in the documentary “Honky Tonk Blues.” | Watch Hank Williams perform “Cold Cold Heart“]