Today’s Tennessean brings the good news that nine years of legal fisticuffs between record companies and the children of Hank Williams has come to an end with the kids–and Williams fans–winning.Back in the days of live radio–before tape recording–station engineers often captured performances on blank records called acetates. These could be played again for later broadcast, distributed to other stations, or, more rarely, used to produce records that could be sold.
In this case, one of Hank’s sponsors, Mothers’ Best Flour, recorded over 40 Hank Williams broadcasts in the early 1950s. When WSM moved to new studios, some dimwit threw out the acetates, which were pulled out of the trash by a sharp-eyed photographer, Les Leverett. He later sold these to a former guitar player in Hank’s band with the wonderful name of Hillous Butrum.
The legal wranglings, as such matters usually go, are too tedious to relate here. The good news is that fans will soon be able to hear live recordings of one of the most dynamic performers in country music history.