Tag Archives: Rufus Payne

30 Pieces of Silver by Hank Williams


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Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

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Then one of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?”

They paid him thirty pieces of silver, and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.  (Matthew 26:14-16)

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Hank Williams Sr
Hank Williams Sr

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The greatest American country music artist of all time, Hiram Hank Williams Sr., a singer-songwriter and musician, was country music’s first superstar. He earned fame with songs like “Cold, Cold Heart,” “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” “Hey, Good Lookin’,” “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive,” “30 Pieces of Silver” etc.

Hank Williams loved the music broadcast over radio and the hymns sung by the church choir. He learned to sing folk and country music. His mother presented him his first guitar. It cost her $3.50 which she paid fifty cents a month. Young Hank, determined to play the guitar, contributed to the cost with the money he made as a shoeshine boy and selling peanuts on the street.

Along with this early success Hank’s behavior became erratic. He often showed up at live performances drunk. Later he became a regular on the “Louisiana Hayride,” a regular Saturday night performance hosted by a radio station in Shreveport. His performance on this show greatly increased his popularity. In 1949, the release of “Lovesick Blues,” carried him into the mainstream of music.

Hank Williams died suddenly of a heart attack in the back seat of his Cadillac in the early morning hours of New Years Day in 1953 (January 1, 1953) at the age of 29.

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Hank Williams Memorial
Hank Williams Memorial

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Despite his short life, Williams has had a major influence on country music. In all, Hank Williams recorded 35 singles. Of these, 11 songs ranked number one in the Billboard Country&Western Best Sellers chart. With five of the 35 songs released posthumously, he earned a place in the Country Music Hall of Fame.

In 2010, 57 years after his death, the Pulitzer Board awarded Williams a special citation for song writing.

As an ardent fan of Hank Williams, I used his song “30 Pieces Of Silver” to create the following video clip as a tribute to him.

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Lyrics – 30 Pieces of Silver by Hank Williams, Sr.

Tis’ a sad but true story
From the Bible it came
And it tells us how Judas
Sold the Savior in shame

He planned with the council
Of high priest that day
30 pieces of silver
Was the price they would pay

30 pieces of silver
30 shekels of shame
Was the price paid for Jesus
On the cross He was slain

Betrayed and forsaken
Unloved and unclaimed
In anger they pierced Him
But He died not in vein

‘Twas on there on the hillside
The multitude came
And found our dear Savior
Then took Him away

They bruised and they mocked Him
Thorns was crowned around His head
And His garment of purple
Showed the blood stains of red

Far off in the mountains
With his face towards the sun
Judas begged mercy
For what he had done

He gave back the silver
For his heart filled with strife
Then there in the mountain
He took his own life

30 pieces of silver
30 shekels of shame
Was the price paid for Jesus
On the cross He was slain

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A Short Biography of Hank Williams, Sr., Who Sang “30 pieces of silver, 30 shekels of shame”


.
Myself 

By T. V. Antony Raj

.

Then one of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?”

They paid him thirty pieces of silver, and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.  (Matthew 26:14-16)

.

Hank Williams Sr
Hank Williams Sr

.

Considered as one of the greatest American country music artist of all time, Hiram Hank Williams Sr., a singer-songwriter and musician, was country music’s first superstar. He earned fame with songs like “Cold, Cold Heart,” “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” “Hey, Good Lookin’,” “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive,” “30 Pieces of Silver” etc.

Hank’s father, Elonzo Huble Williams worked as an engineer for the railroads of the W.T. Smith Lumber Company and was often relocated, and the family lived in many southern Alabama towns. Drafted during the First World War, he was severely injured after falling from a truck, breaking his collarbone and sustaining a severe hit to the head. He served for one year from July 1918 until June 1919.

After his return, the family’s first child, Irene, was born on August 8, 1922. His second child, a son, died shortly after birth. Hiram King Williams, the third child, was born on September 17, 1923, in Mount Olive, Butler County, Alabama. Since Elonzo was a Free Mason, and his wife a member of Order of the Eastern Star they named him after Hiram I of Tyre, one of the three founders of the Masons according to Masonic legend.

Hank was born with spina bifida occulta, a disorder of the spinal column, which gave him lifelong pain. Due to this spinal condition he felt separated from other kids his age and the world around him. This pain he endured was the main cause for his abuse of alcohol and drugs in later years.

In 1930, when Williams was seven years old, his father was afflicted with facial paralysis. At a Veterans Affairs (VA) clinic in Pensacola, Florida, doctors diagnosed the cause as brain aneurysm. They sent Elonzo to the VA Medical Center in Alexandria, Louisiana where he remained hospitalized for eight years. Hank saw his father rarely throughout Hank’s childhood.

Since Elonzo Williams was bedridden, his wife Lillie assumed responsibility for the family. In the fall of 1934 she moved the family to Greenville, Alabama, where she
opened a boarding house.

Hank Williams loved the music broadcast over radio and the hymns sung by the church choir. He learned to sing folk and country music. His mother presented him his first guitar. It cost her $3.50 which she paid fifty cents a month. Young Hank, determined to play the guitar, contributed to the cost with the money he made as a shoeshine boy and selling peanuts on the street.

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Rufus (Tee Tot) Payne

In 1935, when Hank was about 12 years old, he met Rufus (Tee Tot) Payne, an African-American hillbilly blues musician in Greenville, who entertained folks on the street corners with his guitar to earn a few coins. Their relationship became a legend.

Locals called Rufus Payne by his nickname ‘Tee Tot ‘, short for teetotaler, but it more likely had to do with the ‘tea’, a blend of home-brew whiskey and tea that he always had in his flask.

Rufus worked part-time for at Peagler’s Drug Store doing odd jobs such as cleaning or delivery. He spent his spare time playing music with two others for anyone that would listen and toss a few coins. When asked, he would play at local dances.

A determined Hank approached Rufus Payne to teach him to play the guitar. Rufus taught Hank more than just the guitar. From him Hank learned how to draw a crowd and entertain them and keep them happy. Since a street singer does not have a captive audience, Rufus taught him how to grab the attention of the crowd with a style and delivery that would make them want to stop, listen to a couple of songs or three, and drop a few coins in appreciation.

Jay Caress writes that Hank Williams was “…too frail for sports, too smart for farming, too poor for politics and still a bit too young for girls, performing with Tee Tot was the challenge of his young life.”

Rufus visited Hank mom’s kitchen often. She fed him in exchange for her sons tutelage. Hank while talking to jazz journalist Ralph J. Gleason said, “I learned to play the guitar from an old colored man. …I’d give him 15 cents, or whatever I could get a hold of for the lesson.”

Hank Williams and Rufus Payne were so much attached to each other, and the locals called them the “Greenville Troubadours.” The merchants of Greenville invited them to perform in front of their stores. It was during this time that Williams informally changed his name to Hank, believing it to be a better name for country music.

Colin Escott in his book “Hank Williams The Biography” cites the Montgomery Advertiser article from 1951 that said that Hank always gave credit to Rufus Payne: “All the musical training I ever had was from him.”

After some time, the Williams family moved to Georgiana, Alabama, where Lillie worked in a cannery during the day and served as a night-shift nurse in the local hospital to support the family during the Great Depression.

After leaving Greenville in 1937 for Montgomery, Alabama, Hank did not keep in touch with his Rufus Payne, his mentor. Not much is known about Rufus Payne’s life after Hank left.

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Rufus Payne Epitaph
Rufus Payne Epitaph

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On March 17, 1939, Rufus Payne died in a ‘charity hospital’, and buried in Lincoln Cemetery in Montgomery, Alabama. No one knew and could tell Hank he had died. Rufus was about 55 at the time of his death. In his lifetime Rufus Payne remained largely unknown outside southern Alabama.

During the early 1950s it was unfashionable to acknowledge the influence of black musicians. However, in 1951 during a homecoming tribute held for him at Greenville, Hank Williams acknowledged Rufus Payne and gave him full credit for his formative years.

Hank’s music career began there in 1937 in Montgomery when WSFA radio station producers hired him to perform and host a 15-minute program. He formed his own band, the Drifting Cowboys. His mother managed the band. Hank dropped out of school to devote full-time to his career. Lilee drove her son and his band to shows throughout southern Alabama.

During World War II, when several of Hank’s band members conscripted into military service, he had trouble with their replacements. During this period Hank became an alcoholic and eventually WSFA dismissed him due to his alcoholism.

In 1943, Hank met Audrey Mae Sheppard, joined Hank’s band and under his guidance she played bass. She had got separated from her husband recently and had a young daughter. On December 15, 1944, Hank and Audrey got married. In 1949 they had a son together, Hank Williams Jr. On July 10, 1952 they finalized their divorce.

Hank traveled to Nashville in 1946 and met music publisher Fred Rose and the Acuff-Rose Publications company. Hank wrote material for singer Molly O’Day which led to a record contract with the recently created MGM label. A year later Hank Williams had his first hit, “Move It On Over.” In April 1948 he scored a second Billboard success “Honky Tonkin” with Sterling Records.

Along with this early success Hank’s behavior became erratic. He often showed up at live performances drunk. Later he became a regular on the “Louisiana Hayride,” a regular Saturday night performance hosted by a radio station in Shreveport. His performance on this show greatly increased his popularity. In 1949, the release of “Lovesick Blues,” carried him into the mainstream of music.

Hank Williams died suddenly of a heart attack in the back seat of his Cadillac in the early morning hours of New Years Day in 1953 (January 1, 1953) at the age of 29.

.

Hank Williams Memorial
Hank Williams Memorial

.

Despite his short life, Williams has had a major influence on country music. In all, Hank Williams recorded 35 singles. Of these, 11 songs ranked number one in the Billboard Country&Western Best Sellers chart. With five of the 35 songs released posthumously, he earned a place in the Country Music Hall of Fame.

In 2010, 57 years after his death, the Pulitzer Board awarded Williams a special citation for song writing.

As an ardent fan of Hank Williams, I used his song “30 Pieces Of Silver” to create the following video clip as a tribute to him.

.

.

Lyrics – 30 Pieces of Silver by Hank Williams, Sr.

Tis’ a sad but true story
From the Bible it came
And it tells us how Judas
Sold the Savior in shame

He planned with the council
Of high priest that day
30 pieces of silver
Was the price they would pay

30 pieces of silver
30 shekels of shame
Was the price paid for Jesus
On the cross He was slain

Betrayed and forsaken
Unloved and unclaimed
In anger they pierced Him
But He died not in vein

‘Twas on there on the hillside
The multitude came
And found our dear Savior
Then took Him away

They bruised and they mocked Him
Thorns was crowned around His head
And His garment of purple
Showed the blood stains of red

Far off in the mountains
With his face towards the sun
Judas begged mercy
For what he had done

He gave back the silver
For his heart filled with strife
Then there in the mountain
He took his own life

30 pieces of silver
30 shekels of shame
Was the price paid for Jesus
On the cross He was slain

.
RELATED ARTICLES

.

Add this anywhere