Reinstate Hank Williams Into The Grand Ole Opry is now a full blown campaign via the Internet.
If Hank Williams Sr. were here today, it is hard to say what he would think about this thing we call the Internet. But the Internet sure has a lot to say about him. There is a massive movement online to reinstate the Country music legend into the Grand Ole Opry. It has avid Country music lovers posting bulletins, leaving comments and placing banners on their personal social network pages. Hank III, the grandson of Hank Williams, Sr. and son of Hank Williams, Jr., has been instrumental in encouraging his fans to participate and sign the online petition that is hosted at Gopetition.com and fans worldwide have gotten involved, leading to the accumulation of almost 45,000 signatures, and growing.
Cathy Pippin, a 54 year old woman from Bowling Green Kentucky, has made it her mission to add as many names to the list as possible. Her “Cathy’s Reinstate Hank Bandwagon- Jump On page” (www.myspace.com/vintage54), accumulated signatures from a few hundred friends and supporters. “I’ve met so many wonderful friends doing this,” she says, “and we all have the same goal. From Monica in Amsterdam, Rocker666 in Australia, to Mr. Bandana in North Carolina. Mr Bandana went to a lot of shows and enlisted signatures and pictures of many bands signing the petition including David Allan Coe, Marshall Tucker Band, Rebel Son, Antiseen, and many more. You get the idea. These people are spreading the word about the Opry and gathering signatures daily on the ‘printable’ Reinstate Hank petition sheets. The printable petition sheet is a “credit” to another one of my Myspace people,Johnny Wright Jr. He made it easy for all of us to print them out and they’re identical to the sheets in the petition book. I could go on and on about all the work of the wonderful people I have met doing this.”
Many fans feel that because the Opry has Hank’s pictures placed throughout the establishment,and his name and likeness is used for promotional purposes, that it is capitalizing on his immense popularity amongst country music lovers. When Outlaw Magazine asked the Opry to comment on the movement and petition, Schmidt PR (The Opry’s PR firm) gave us the following statement:
“We are very proud of the fact that Hank Williams was a member of the Grand Ole Opry between 1949 and 1952, and greatly value his tremendous contributions to country music. If Hank Williams were alive today and wished an association with the Opry, we would certainly want to talk with him about re-joining the cast. One of the Opry’s many roles is to honor and respect history, not rewrite it. ”
The Opry is big business these days, owned by Gaylord Entertainment Company. Gaylord Entertainment operates a number of hotel, resort and media companies, and corners the market on Country music in Nashville, with businesses ranging from CMT, WSM, The Ryman Auditorium, Opryland, and more. But the sad loss of Porter Wagoner, along with the likes of Trace Adkins singing HonkyTonk Badonkadonk on the Opry stage, make many long for the days when the Opry represented quality roots music.
The love for that music is a personal, passionate thing for many people. And Hank Williams’ music has influenced all ages of musicians, and appreciators. This extends to Hank III, who has a huge underground following, and his fans range from teenagers to senior citizens. He has no fear of going up against the Opry, or any establishment for that matter. He has a song entitled “The Grand Ole Opry (Ain’t So Grand)” on his latest CD and he encourages support for the petition on all of his web sites.
One of his supporters in the Netherlands, Monica (otherwise known on Myspace as “Restless in Amsterdam”) has worked tirelessly to spread the word.
“I got involved in the Reinstate Hank movement after I read a bulletin sent by Hank III to all his friends asking to ask people to sign the petition and put the banner on their pages,” she remembers. “This was around March, 2007, and I had only been on Myspace about two months. I asked family to sign, co-workers, shops in the neighborhood. We didn’t have lists like we had now. I signed at once because I have loved Hank Williams’ music ever since I was 14 yrs. old and first found out about him. His music helped me when I was feeling sad and alone, so this is the chance to give a little back to the man, posthumously, who helped so many people with his music.”
So the word continues to spread, and those infamous banners are popping up all over the Internet. Yes, even we have one . Why? Because Hank Williams is arguably the most influential artist in the history of country music, and because….it just ain’t right.
Read the Petition below and sign your name to the list at:
and visit www.reinstatehank.org for more information.
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