Hank Williams’ Driver Passes

Image635083586797020661Even though this particular news is sad, it is very important to the music industry, because with the death of Charles Carr we lose another chapter in the life of Hank Williams Sr’s career.

Charles Carr was remembered as a dear friend and an honorable man after his death Monday morning was announced.

But for most he will probably always be known as the young man who was driving the blue Cadillac that carried country star Hank Williams on his final journey. Williams died Jan. 1, 1953, while he and Carr were on their way to a New Year’s Day concert in Canton, Ohio.

Carr, a retired investor from Montgomery, was 79, said his stepson, Don King.

Hank Williams was a friend of Carr’s family, and Carr knew him well when Williams hired him to drive him to Ohio. Carr was then a freshman at Auburn University. Carr told the Montgomery Advertiser in 2001 that he was asked about that fateful trip, which was plagued by terrible weather, “at least once every week.”

Carr said that he was reluctant to talk about Williams’ death for some time, but realized that Williams had legions of fans as well as friends.

King said that his family was always proud of the fact that Carr refused to make a profit from anything connected with Williams’ death.

“He never wanted it to appear as if he were trying to seem special or to gain anything from that coincidence,” King said. “But as he became older, he began to understand that this was a big part of American history, and he wanted to set the record straight.”

Carr was always a friend to the Hank Williams Museum, said museum director Beth Petty, who was saddened to hear of Carr’s death.

“I have the utmost respect for him,” Petty said. “Fans loved (Carr). He was always a crowd favorite.”

Initially, Carr was reluctant to talk about the "death ride," but he eventually added his own voice to the shaping of Williams legend. In Montgomery, he worked in investment and real estate until his retirement.

Carr’s death follows the late April death of Braxton Schuffert, 97, an original member of Williams’ Drifting Cowboys band.

Services for Carr had not been finalized as of press time.

Image635083594472489673On Dec. 30, 1952, the (then) 29-year-old Hank Williams hired Charles Carr to drive him in his 1952 powder blue Cadillac from Montgomery to concert dates in Charleston, W.Va., and Canton, Ohio.

It was snowing and travel was especially slow and hazardous along mostly two-lane roads on that trip. The two men spent the first night in Birmingham, AL.

On the afternoon of the second day, they checked into a hotel in Knoxville, Tenn., after a flight Williams chartered to take him to Charleston was turned back because of the snow.

Late that same evening, Carr had the hotel's porters carry the exhausted and unconscious singer (he had earlier been given two shots of morphine) to the Cadillac to resume the journey to Canton since it had become apparent they could not make the Charleston show.

In Oak Hill, W.Va., the next morning, Carr stopped and found Williams cold, unresponsive and lying essentially in the same position in the back seat of the car where the porters in Knoxville had placed him. He was pronounced dead at the Oak Hill hospital at 7 a.m. on Jan. 1, 1953.

1 comment:

nativekentuckian said...

At the age of four and a half.....while riding in the backseat of my parent's car on a trip to Peoria, Illinois, I remember my Dad telling my Mother about what he had just heard on the car radio.....That Hank Williams was dead...

Sonny Walls...Coolidge,Az