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Ask Jimmy...

** A Friend & Legend Passes **
I am very sad to report the passing of our friend and former Drifting Cowboy, Jimmy Porter on Dec. 15, 2007. I know that I don't have to tell you all what a good man Jimmy was or how he was above all a fan and promoter of Hank Williams. Personally, I will greatly miss the assistance he gave me with this site, his in site on life, and most importantly, the friendship and kindness he has shown me over the years! My thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family.

With the passing of our friend Jimmy Porter, so does the Ask Jimmy section of this website. It was a amazing honor to assist Jimmy in telling his part of the "Hank Williams and Drifting Cowboys" story. I know he personally loved hearing and answering the questions that you sent in. He told me this all the time.
From myself and Jimmy (I know he would like to) thank you for sending them.
This section will remain on-line for informational purposes and as my small and humble tribute to the man that I called "friend".

Thank you Jimmy! I’ll never forget you!! - Nathan

This is your chance to ask all the question you have had over the years about Hank Willams & The Drifting Cowboys, Country Music, Life on the Road, the Music Industry, Steel Guitar, etc. You get all the answers directly from Jimmy Porter.

Jimmy was an original member of Hank's Cowboys in the 40's and the youngest musician (13 yrs) to ever be hired by Hank. He has also played with many of the Big names in music. He knows the answers, because he was there.

Here are some recent questions that Jimmy has been asked:

Dear Jimmy,

I was born in 1933, in western Virginia and grew up listening to Hank Sr. Who played the fiddle for him during the TAKE THESE CHAINS and YOUR CHEATIN HEART period. Also, did Jerry Rivers and Tommy Jackson play for Hank, and, if so, did they both play with him at the same time.

You were a memeber of one of the greatest country bands that has ever existed. I know you can take great satisfaction in this.

I play the mandolin and fiddle, and enjoy playing along with Hank's recordings.

By the way, I am a retired college professor and now pastor Guthrie Memorial Adventist Chapel.

Thank you in advance for responding to this note.Blessings.

Dr. Fillmer H.

From what I can determine, Hank's fiddle player on the recording of TAKE THESE CHAINS FROM MY HEART was recorded on 23 Sep 52 at Castle Studio in Nashville; Tommy Jackson was the fiddle player on this session along with Don Helms on steel, Chet Atkins on lead guitar, Jack Shook on rythm guitar, Floyd "Lightnin" Chance played bass and Farris Coursey played drums.

Your Cheatin' Heart was in the same session with the same players, and also recorded I Could Never Be Ashamed of You, and Kaw-Liga.

Jerry Rivers recorded earlier (in July 1952 with Hank at the Castle Studio in Nashville with musicians Don Helms, Chet Atkins, Harold Bradley and Ernie Newton on Bass. As far as I know, Jerry and Tommy Jackson never played with Hank on the same show or recording sessions.

Thanks you for asking the questions and I hope the answer are what you wanted to know.
Jimmy Porter - Drifting Cowboy

Dear Jimmy,

I believe you played the steel for TAKE THESE CHAIMS. If so, you did a beautiful job. This was the REAL country music. I never listen to this modern stuff. Blessings and health!

Dr. Fillmer H.

Hello...I hate to disappoint but I never recorded with Hank either in or out of Nashville. I only played with Hank in the Alabama area. On the recording of the song "Take These Chains From My Heart", Don Helms played the steel guitar and the song was recorded on 23 Sep 1952 at the Castle Studio in Nashville. Also on the recording session were Chet Atkins, Jack Shook, Floyd "Lightnin" Chance, and Farris Coursey. I am sorry to say that Hank did ask me in the summer of 1947 to Go to Nashville and play with him. I had other plans going on and had to decline but he did understand and we remained good friends until his death; maybe I made a BIG mistake, but who knows. I am not sorry for not going with him. Thanks, Jimmy Porter, Drifting Cowboy

Did Hank ever record any Christmas (music) and if he didn't wonder why?

I don't know of any Christmas song that Hank ever recorded nor is there any listed in the Discography of Hank's songs. I have no idea why other than he might have thought that his career was a little too short to do this. I'm sure he could have done a great job singing this type song. I really wish he would have done at least one good Christmas song - it would be playing on my record player right now if he had.
Thanks, Jimmy Porter

Did you see Hank prior to his death? or when was the last time you saw him?

As for the last time I saw Hank alive, it was in Montgomery at the Union Depot (Train Station) where he was staying on a Pullman Car as a member of The Hadacol Show. I went to the train station and into his Pullman Car and sat and talked with him for over an hour and he was in a good mood and feeling good. This was in August or September 1951. He always asked me how I was doing and who I was playing with. We stayed in touch with each other and I would work a few Honky Tonks with him when he would come into Montgomery - (no charge - just fun time for Hank). My wife and I did go to the Hadacol Show at Crampton Bowl and the stadium was packed with people. To get in, you had to have a Hadacol Box Top and present it to the ticket takers. It was a big success here but the show folded up a short time later. Hank would call me just about every time he came to Montgomery. Thanks for the question. I was a member of the Local Union in Montgomery when Hank played for them at the ELITE CAFE in downtown Montogmery. I was invited to attend the affair but I was working a job the night of the party and didn't get to see Hank, which I am now very sorry that I didn't. We remained friends until he passed away. Jimmy Porter

Did Hank always wear western clothes? ...BWest

About the Western Clothes question, the only time around Montgmery that I saw him wear the nice Western Suits is when he would do shows at the City Auditorium in Montgomery. Normally, around town, he would wear blue jeans, boots and a long sleeve shirt; also, a western style belt. He was usually always neatly dressed. Good question. Jimmy Porter

Hello Jimmy:
I was looking at tribute songs to Hank on the net and came across one called "Hanks Little Flower Girl" by Little Barbara. Since I didn't know of this song or the singer I have tried to find out about her or the song. I haven't been able to find anything. Are you familiar with her or the song?
Bob I.

I spent a while looking through a book and looking in the discography of Hanks recordings and there was no mention in the book or discography of "Little Barbara" or Hank's Little Flower Girl. It is possible she could have done a show with him somewhere but there if no name mentioned anywhere that I could find. I sure wish I could give a positive answere to the question but that's all I have on it. Thanks, Jimmy Porter

I found your web site searching for Rex Griffin. He is my grandfather, and I know my grandfather and him were best of friends. Just wondering if you have anything ( pictures ) of him, or him and hank.

Please respond:
Grand Isle La

I do have some information on Rex Griffin (but no pictures of him and Hank together). Rex was a songwritter and singer and recorded "Lovesick Blues in September 1939 and wrote, sang, and recorded "Last Letter", a big hit for him but I don't have the date - it was prior to 1941 and he toured in the South and Southwest but returned to Gadsden, AL with his band which included PEE WEE MOULTRIE. I don't know how long he performed after this but Rex and Hank did perform shows together during early 1941.

From what I can read, his full name was Aulsie "Rex" Griffin. He died of Tuberculosis in New Orleans in a charity ward at a hospital in 1958.

The owner of Griffin's Radio Shop in Montgomery recorded Hank off the air in the spring of 1942. The recording stated the name of the person doing the recording and I believe it was either Rex or maybe his son. Hank sang "The Last Letter" as one of the songs on this radio program. The Radio Shop was located on Forest Avenue in Montgomery.

I hope this information will help some but I am sorry that I don't know of any pictures of Rex and Hank.

Thanks for writing.

Jimmy Porter

Hi Jimmy,

When I read your message about attending churches in Chisholm (long ago) then Montgomery, I was happy to hear about it. You stated a wonderful life of coming into your own as a person in the church, in music and with your family life. I appreciate how you told about it. Many people cannot retell those years and capture the high moments, the meaningful times that formed you manners and ways. You talked about Sunday School and Training Union. I heard of Training Union, but had my growing up years with its counterpart Youth for Christ out of Winona Lake, Indiana as high points of my teenage years in music and social times. They welcomed many of us to music for hearing great bands, solos and such. I read that you and your family recently moved to Birmingham not so long ago. I'm glad you are settled well and still love to play your steel guitar. Is there a radio station you know of that I could listen in to? I was thinking of music that would be like what you used to play or play even today. Thank you for those great memories and thoughts.

I have a hymn book with "Beyond the Sunset" and "Beulah Land" the tune that makes me want to cry at its tender flow of melody. I wonder how that would sound on steel?

I have a question for your performing years with Hank. When you played "Move it on Over" with Hank, did he have his band members sing out on the echo of that phrase? I just wonder how that went and how it sang? I can imagine how fun and wild that song must have gotten - it has some fun verses. Did the crowds just love it and laugh or sing along or did they listen up very closely to Hank as he sang those verses? What was that like for you and the people who came to hear? Did Hank have a laughing way about it or was it angry when he sang?

Yes, I would like to have your autograph inside your book. You said you would do that if I could send it to you. How I got the idea was from teh Drfting Cowboys webstie where I read about the Hank Williams Museum then saw the book you wrote was for sale. That is when I sent off for it from the Museum and actually asked if they could get your autograph on it. I have not head back from them and they have not cashed my check yet. Yes, if you would be so kind, I would like to order your book from you for $8 as you said. Then it may be possible to get your autograph on the copy you send. Since I write to you, you know I am a fan of Hank and the Drifting Cowboys' music and would be interested in reading your book about your life. It would be a treat to have that and your handwriting within the book, if you would be so kind to do it. Thank you. I wonder now how and where to send the $8.00 so you can send me the book? I'll wait for your answer and hope it can work out.

Thank again for answering my questions. I have thoughts about the music and want to talk about it. Thanks for your patience and kindness.

Hello Roberta. Thank you for your letter and I will answer it in a short version since you are ordering my book. Yes, I have lived a good life and have enjoyed every minute of it, particularly the time I have spent with a loving wife, four childrem, 6 grandchildren and one great grandson. I have 3 boys and I girl and they each have children. They have all been a great family and we thoroughly enjoy being with each other on all the major holidays. Our oldest son and his family live in New Jersey; one son and his family still live in Montgomery and we have one son and his family and a daughter and her family that live approximately 8 miles from us here in Birmingham. They were all raised in Church in Montgomery and they still attend church in the area in which they live.

As far as country music stations in Montgomery and Birmingham playing REAL country music, that's a no-no. All they play is the modern so-called country but I never listen to it. The old timers have been totally forgotten in Alabama and other states. What a shame - they played and sang the REAL country songs and are being forgotten.

I think the two songs you mentioned would sound great on the steel but I have never heard anyone play either of them. I will probably try sometime this week end and see if I can still remember them. As for the cowbys echoing after Hank on "Move it on over", they did, and I also did this when he played the song at a dance I was playing for in 1947 and he came by and sang a few songs with the band. We all enjoyed doing that. As far as the crowds are concerned, they loved to hear Hank sing and if they were dancing, some of the couples would just stop dancing and listen. His shows were always great and the audiences just clamored for more when he would finish a song. I don't think Hank was ever angry when he sang - he was always in his prime when he did his songs! Hank was not a real serious person all the time; ;he loved to joke and play around with the musicians and kept something going all the time. He was a great person. I always sat on the side and a little way back from Hank when he sang and I was playing steel and I couldn't see his face during that period of time so I don't know what kind of facial _expression he sang with but I'm sure most of the time, he was probably smiling.

I don't know why the Museum hasn't sent your book but I will check with them and see if there is a problem. In the meantime, if you want to, just send me $8.00 cash and I will pay the postage on the book and will certainly autograph it for you. Julst let me know what your first name is and I will sign it to you. My address is: Jimmy Porter, 1195 Berwick Road, Birmingham, AL 35242. I will send the book the same day I receive your money. I'm sorry that I have to do this this way but I have to be careful because of bad checks being returned and that costs me money.

Thanks again for writ9ng and I hope to hear from you soon and please send me your mailing address so that I can send the book.

Jimmy Porter
Drifting Cowboy



I don't know of any archives that would be interested in the autograph of Tex. I don't know if he has an internet site or not; also, there's a possibility that Ernest Tubb has a fan club and someone could be interested in this. I never jamed with Tex or Ernest. When I was playing with the Crysel Band after I left Hank, we opened a couple of shows for Ernest Tubb in Montgomery and saw him on many occasions but never knew him personally. Wish I could help you more on this. Thanks for asking.

Your friend,
Jimmy Porter

Hi Jimmy,

I thank you very much for your wonderful message. It was so touching to me to read about your life and how you came to know the Lord. Thank you. I am a person who cares about others and very grateful to know about your life and direction taken. It must have showed up in your music as you were playing with Hank and later in your life as well. Did he ever cry as he played music or talked to the people? Did you? I've been listening to his music for just several years, unlike you who had him as your friend for those wonderful years you knew each other. Like it must have been fun to do "Move it on over" or laugh it up over "settin the woods on fire". Even the songs "Beyond the sunset" and "I'm gonna sing, sing, sing" (when I get to heaven). Did you have a favorite? Did you play these songs with him? I can't help but think as you said you were friends fro those years from 1941 through 1953 that your friendship and companionship had to make a difference to him. He could see you were steady and a musician who could be like an anchor. For you to end up writing a book it seems to me you had and have something going for you in that writing gift as well as in your musical gifts. I thank God for you, Mr. Porter, that you were there for Hank and was his friend. My life here in Illinois has been good and with a loving family. My Father is home with the Lord now since May of 2003. I am with my Mother here. I started in a Baptist Church and came to knwo the Lord in Sunday School from Miss Rose who showed us verses and told stories about Jesus. He became my friend and I have followed him since. A few drifting years (not like the Drifting Cowboys now!) and now I am back in stride and reading, talking to him and walking with him. Music is a very important part of my life. mu church choir of 75 people praises and learns good muisc. I go to HankFest here in Chicago and enjoy very much all those who honor Hank and sing "I saw the Light" at midnight on his birthday as a huge cake is brought out with the big candle that says 80, 81 years.

Yes, I sent off to Hank Williams Museum for your book and asked if they could possibly get your autograph for me. Is that possible? It would be a thrill and very precious to me. I am aligned with those who were friends with Hank and am wanting to respect you too. Yes, your message gave me much of what I wnated to know about Hank, about your thoughts when you were with him. I appreciate what you said about him and I know you are a good man as well. I give him credit fro those many gospel songs. Especially when he did the ones under his pseudo name of Luke the Drifter with those forlorn voice and tunes. Were you around when he did those?

Thank you foryoru insight into Hank as you said he couldn';t have written those songs without some knowlege adn relationship with the Lord himself within. I bellieve as you sadi, that a person grows into it from their own experiences and that God comes closer, draws a person and that Hank was being drawn and led by the Lord in his music. I appreciate the passion and delibertion in his songs and how he sang them from his hurting heart and soul. Yes I wish there could have been more doctor care for his back problems and that woudl have been relived. But you saw that happen firswt hand. He was brave to keep going. I respect him fro the determination and courage.

Well, I say thank you again. I hope my quiestinon are not too much.. Thank you again for the book I am about to receive and enjoy.

All the best,

Hello. Thanks for the message.

I was baptised into the Baptist Faith at the age of 12 years old and have loved Christ dearly since that day. It made me a very happy person (boy) and I have tried to live that faith since I was baptised. I tried to be a wittness for Christ in all the years I played with Hank and others and still try to do the same today. I never saw Hank cry while playing music or talking to people. I never cried while playing his music but have gotten choked up a bit at times when I would tell someone about Hank. I still get that way even today when I talk about him.

I never did get to play Hank's hit songs with him (except Move It On Over) He didn't make it big until 1947 and later; he had a new version of Drifting Cowboys that started in 1948-1949 that recorded his hit songs and toured with him. Don Helms was his big hit steel guitar player and is still living and a good friend of mine. He still plays his steel guitar and lives in Nashville. I really don't know if my friendship with Hank during 1941-1953 made a difference to Hank or not but it made me real proud to know that I was a good friend of his and he would call me whenever he visited back in Montgomery. I think he was proud that I was a friend of his. I guess "I Saw The Light" will always be a favorite with Hank Fans, even thought the original thought was not about Christ but just close to being home in Montgomery.

I wish I had known that you wanted a book. I still sell my book myself and pay postage as well as autograph each book. My price is $8.00 and includes shipping. If you would send me the book when you get it, I will certainly autograph it and send it right back to you and I will still pay the return shipping charge. As for "Luke The Drifter", I had already left Hank but I know when he went to Nashville to do the recordings. I knew two of the musicians from Montgomery who went with him and recorded the songs (one of them played with the same band I was in but I was still in high school and couldn't go). Hank did offer me a job to start playing with him again in 1948 but I had already been to Nashville and decided that music was not going to be my life to I kind of semi retired and just played occasionally when I wanted to.

I hope that I have answered some of your questions and feel free to write me again anytime if you have more to ask about Hank.


Jimmy Porter
Original Drifting Cowboy

Hey Jimmie,

I'm very glad to hear about your book "My Life as a Musician" and am sending off for it to the Hank Williams Museum in Montgomery. I look forward to reading it and learning more about your life and music. I love the music Hank wrote and sang. It stays with me and gives a lot to think about. May I ask you about how you came to know the Lord? For me it was early in my 7th or 8th year and I knew I had found a strength for my life, still do. I find out more about the Lord through music that worships Him and also draws us all together. I was very glad to read your comment that "Hank accepted Christ when he was about six or seven years old at the Mount Olive Baptist Church." Of all the books I've read about Hank this is the first time I ran across a close comment about how he thought about the Lord. Can you tell me some more of what you think or remember? I would be interested in your thoughts about Hank's belief in Christ and how he thought of Him at various times in his life. I wish he could have reached out for refuge and strength when he was in bad times. Maybe toward the end he might have drawn closer to Christ? I don't know but am wanting to ask you. Thank you for your time and your thourghts. I appreciate that you would reply.

As to the first question about how I came to know the Lord, I attended the Chisholm Baptist Church in Chisholm, AL for about 4 years before I accepted Christ in a summer revival when I was 12 years old. My mother, who was a Methodist, decided to join the Baptist Church also during the revival and we were baptized the same night. I have been a Baptist since I first started attending church. I was very active in Sunday School, Training Union, Vacation Bible School, etc. In my later years, I was elected as a Deacon in Morningview Baptist Church for three separate times. I was very active in this Church until we moved to Birmingham the 27th of August 2005 and have now transferred my membership to the North Shelby Baptist Church in Birmingham. I, too, love the old hymns about Jesus and love to play many of them on the steel guitar.

I was not around Hank every day so it would be impossible for me to try to tell things about his religion and be truthful. I can only say that he was a very honest person, he cared for people who were less fortunate than he, and he would hand out money to the needy when he had it to give out. Hank never once used the name of the Lord in vain that I heard and he loved to sing sacred songs. He included these sacred songs on most of his shows. Hank wrote and recorded 78 religious songs that were very deep in thought and without knowing the Bible, he could not have written what he did. I believe that Hank thought about the Lord more than the general public gave him credit for. But here again, it's just my word and what I knew and felt about him. There's no doubt in my mind that he thought about Christ a good deal in his last year or so. He just had a very bad physical problem (and marriage problem) the last couple of years but his greatest joy, I think, was to make people happy, especially his fans, and he did this.

Thanks for ordering my book from the Hank Williams Museum, and I hope this little bit of information helps you with what you wanted to know about Hank. Hank was my friend from March 1941 until he passed away in 1953.

Jimmy Porter
Drifting Cowboy

Hi Jimmy:
I am a long time fan of Hank, and Hank Jr. his son. I am 40 years old and have been listening to both Hank's for 30 of those years. It is good of you to lend yourself to answer question from long time fans as myself.

Being as Hank had written what is truly my favorite gospel song "I Saw The Light". Would you say that Hank had a genuine faith in God or would you say that it would have more to do with his gift of writing to a variety of perspective listeners. If faith was involved in the writing of this gospel great, I would love the opportunity of researching this further from a Christian, and pastor's perspective. Thank you Jimmy

Michael W.

Mr. W. , to answer your question about Hank's faith in God to the best of my knowledge. I don't know if you are aware that Hank had written about 75-80 really good gospel songs and most of them were songs that only a person who had faith and knowledge about God could write. His gospel songs were deep in thought and something that I don't feel could just be imagined and written about.

From what I learned while playing steel guitar with Hank (he was 18 and I was 13 when I started with him), Hank attended Church on a regular basis with his mother who played the organ (or piano) for the small country church). As I understood, he joined the church at an early age and truly believed in God. But, as everyone knows, he strayed away from this in his later life but I don't think he ever doubted his religious beliefs. I think God would have had to give him the talent for writing and singing because of the songs he wrote in his awfully short music career - about 13 years total. I was in the car with Hank, his mother, and a couple of other musicians on the way home from Thigpins Log Cabin in Georgiana when the idea for this song came to him. The light that brought the idea was a searchlight a few miles away from Montgomery and when you saw the light, it meant that you were closer to home. He stayed with this idea and later wrote the song and praised the Lord that he saw the light (and you know the entire song, I'm sure). There are two or three other guys that came up with what I said later but I was the first to come out and say this in a book I have written.

I would suggest that you contact the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville (Research Department) and see what they can offer you in the way of coming up there and doing a research and do a thorough search of all their materials on Hank. They have many live interviews with musicians and family members that worked with Hank or related to him. I did a very interesting interview (live) two years ago for them and all this kind of material is on file there. You could contact Mr. John Rumble, Historian at the Country Music Foundation, who did my interview and you may mention my name if you desire. The telephone number to call him is: 615-XXX-XXXX.

I thank you for writing "Ask Jimmy" and I thoroughly enjoy answering any question that I may know about. It just helps keep his name alive.

Jimmy Porter
Drifting Cowboy

hi jimmy, i was wondering if you have played with hank III? if so what was it like? abd did hank sr, ever play in odessa texas? thanks a million kelly sxxxxx...

Hello, and thanks for sending the question. First, I have never played with Hank III nor have I ever met him. I have seen him on TV a couple of times but that's it. As for Hank Sr. playing in Odessa, Texas, I checked everything I had but could find nothing on this. I feel sure he did play there but I have no clue as to who has a complete list of the places where he performed. Sorry I couldn't be of more help on this question.
Jimmy Porter

Hi do you remember any of the band members that played with Hank Williams on his early radio shows.I am told that maybe my father played with him as a back up singer and guitar player.Thanks
Gerald R.


I have another question sorry.Do you know of local bands that played clubs in Montgomery one was on highland avenue I dont remember the name and also do you know of a man who played and sang that had the nickname "Scorpion" his last name was Roberts.Thanks again
Gerald R.

Hello. To answer your questions about local bands that played in Montgomery, particularly on Highland Avenue, I'll do the best I can on this one. There were not many night clubs on Highland Avenue in Montgomery that catered to white people - maybe a bar or two, but it was mostly a residental street from one end to the other. There were quite a few band, both country and small group combos that played all over Montgomery and some had good bands; this was in the late forties. I do not know of anyone that was ever called "Scorpion" that played here but I could be wrong on this because I didn't follow to many of the bands in the late forties. The only person I can remember that played both country and in a small combo with a fine band was named Sam Roberts. He played for several years with the same band and they were very popular but I don't ever remember them playing on Highland Avenue. Sam was a fine steel player and played with a band headed up by a great musician called Leo Hudson. Leo was a multi tallented musician and could play vibes, sax, piano, bass guitar and guitar; Wimpy Jones also played with Leo at one time. Sam Roberts died several years ago with heart problems and was a friend of mine (I bought his ShoBud Amp for my steel before he got sick).

I do have the names of several of Hank's early band members (not Drifting Cowboys at the time). They were: Braxton Shuffert, Smith (Hezzy) Adair, Elon Smith, Pee Wee Moultrie, Red Todd (later a Drifting Cowboy) and the following original Drifting Cowboys: Freddy Beach, Mexican Charlie Mays, Shorty Seal on Bass, Rufus "Puddin" Taylor on Bass, Indian Joe Hatcher on lead guitar, Boots Harris on Steel Guitar, Paul Dennis on guitar, Jimmy Webster on steel guitar (mid forties), Jimmy Porter, steel guitar 1941-1944; There were many musicians who came after this time and it's hard to keep up with them. Lum York came to work with Hank in 1943 as a Drifting Cowboy. The ones mentioned are the earlier members of Hank's band.

I hope this information will answer the questions. Thanks for asking.

Jimmy Porter

Hi Jimmy..
Was Hank really from Georgiana Ala or was he really from Chapman Ala?


Hello. To answer the question about Hank, he was born in Mt. Olive, AL near Chapman and Georgiana. I am sure that he lived in both Chapman and Georgiana as a young boy.

His birth place was still standing a few years back but was overgrown with bushes, trees, etc. but I never had a chance to go and try to find it. Hope this will answer the question, and thanks a million for writing.

Jimmy Porter

Hello, My mother, 76yrs said she saw Hank Williams in the elevator at the Hawley Bldg in Wheeling,WV. she said he was there doing something with the radio station WWVA on the 10th floor. She worked on the 8th floor and was apx. 18 at the time and said that Hank made a ribald comment to her and her friend had to explain to her what it ment.Mom said, "I was so innocent I didn't know what he ment." I am wondering was Hank Williams at WWVA radio at that time. thank You, Sheila N.

Hello. It was good to hear from you. This is an interesting question you sent but I can only say that it was possible for him to have been in Wheeling, West VA. (which would have been in 1945 if my calculation is correct. There was a big jamboree in Wheeling that was very popular and a lot of good stars came from that show. Hank could have been there to sing and trying to get a spot on the show. I just don't know for sure. I never heard it mentioned locally. Hank would have been 22 years old at the time and was trying to make it to the big time along about that period of time.
Thanks for asking.
Jimmy Porter

Jimmy, was there ever a muscian named Homer Hatcher in Hank's band? Thank's Betty J.

Hello...I wish I could give a definite answer to this question but all I can say is that I have never heard his name mentioned anywhere nor I can't find him listed in any of the books. He never played for Hank in Montgomery but after Hank left here, I don't have a clue.
The only Hatcher I ever knew of was "Indian" Joe Hatcher that played for Hank for a while in 1939 and maybe a very short time in 1940. There were so many pick up musicians that played maybe a job with Hank if he needed a fill in musician but it would be impossible for me to identify any of them. I do not feel that this gentleman was a Drifting Cowboy.
Jimmy Porter

Thank you Sir, for taking the time to answer my question, nice to know that you are keeping the memory of so many talented musicians alive, I find their life stories so interesting, keep up the good work and have you ever considered a book?

Hello. Thanks for another message...I have written a book "My Life As A Musician" and lists just about all the musicians I have ever worked for. I don't go into any detail on any of them but I knew them all pretty well and most of them were truly great musicians. If you have any questions about any particular one, I would be happy to try and recall something or look up something about them. The book I have sells for $8.00 and I pay the postage. I don't have a whole lot more left and sell one or two a week and on some shows. You can email me or write me at my home address...

Jimmy Porter

Jay, You can find ordering info/address for Jimmy's items, including his book & music, on the Cowboys Store page (link off Front Page).
Nathan P. (manager)

Great site, the "Cowboys" are not forgotten, much appreciated in fact, my question, "What ever happened to Wimpy Jones" thanks Jimmy, Canadian Jay

Thanks for the message. It was good to hear from you.

As for Ask Jimmy about Wimpy Jones, here is the information.

Carl "Wimpy" Jones was born on 4 Ap4 1922 and passed away on Mar 30, 197l at the age of 49. It is not clearly known where he was born but all the information I can gather is that it was probably in the vicinity of Uniontown, Alabama where he is burried. He had a few cousins and an uncle and aunt that lived there but little is known of them. I had the privilidge to find his grave site in Uniontown and took pictures of the grave. It is in a very nice location and he has a nice marker (headstone) and the site is well kept.

I played with Wimpy in a band in Montgomery for two or three years with the Crysel Band and he was one of the best musicians I have ever known. He played around here for a few years and finally got a job with Curly Williams and the Georgia Peachpickers who were Big Time Country-Western singers and payers. Wimpy recorded a song with the band called "Whole Hog Or None" and it did quite well for them. I never saw a guitar player, no matter how good they were, that wouldn't stop and listen to him play his guitar. He left Curly after a year or so and kind of drifted around and wound up back in Montgomery in the sixties and played saxaphone and guitar with a local band that was headed up by Leo Hudson. They did a live TV show for several months here in Montgomery. I personall knew of several big name entertainers that offered Wimpy a job in the mid forties while he was with the Crysel band but Wimpy turned them all down. I do not know where he was when he passed away but he was burried in a family plot in Uniontown, AL, a few miles west of Selma, AL. As you know, he was legally blind and did attend the School for blind in Talladega, AL as a young person (very early teens) but didn't graduate. He just wanted to play music.

I hope this information is what you wanted. Very few people knew much about Wimpy but we were pretty close friends while he was playing with our band (the Crysels). We stayed in contact with each other for quite some time after he came back to Montgomery.

Thanks for asking about this great musician.

Jimmy Porter

Mr. Porter
I'm writing from France and my english is not good.Sorry 'bout that. I'm a guitarist (ok not a good one) and have recently listened more closely to Hank Williams and his musicians music and wow the guitar parts are often really amazing !!! Sometimes you can hardly say if it's steel or "normal" guitar (i repeat, i'm not a good guitarist... for the moment :) )
I've tried to understand how it's done but... I found No tabs that describe the solos or choruses. And there are not many cowboys to show me around here...

So here are a couple of questions that could help me.

- who is playing solo guitar and steel on "mind your own business, lovesick blues, you're gonna change" (thes are some of the songs i'm working on)?
- is the solo guitar open tuned on this song or is a capo used?
- do you know what were the most used tunings by Hank and his musicians ?
- do you know good books with tabs (maybe some of the drifting cowboys wrote some?) or even videos
- how did all that great musicians learned music (at school, parents, familly ...?) What about your personnal experience?
- what other guitarists should I listen to to try to penetrate the secret?

I hope none of these questions sounds to stupid?
Thank you very much



Got your message and I found the date of the recordings and the steel and guitar player on all three. They are:
Lovesick Blues - recorded Dec 22, 1948: Steel Guitar - Jerry Byrd; Lead Guitar - Zeb Turner
Mind Your Own Business - recorded Mar 1-2, 1949: Steel Guitar - Don Davis; Lead Guitar - Zeke Turner (don't know if the Turners are related)
You're Gonna Chance - recorded Mar 1-2, 1949; Don Davis - Steel Guitar; Zeb Turner

- Capo's were not used by the steel guitar players back in the early days - only dobro's were played. I don't exactly know what you mean by "open tuned" on the steel. All the steel players used like Open A or A6 tunnings; E tunning and B6 tunnings. Today, most steel players of any reputation are using the Nashville E9th Tunning with 3 pedals and four or five knee levers; The C6th tunning on the pedal steel has 5 pedals one or two knee levers (depending on the player). Jerry Byrd, was very famous on his 6 string lap steel and he used a combination of his own tunnings working with A6 and tuning different ways. He now plays (or did play) an 8 or 10 string steel with no pedals.

- I am not sure what tunning Don Davis used - either a combination E13th or B6th but I am not certain. Don did several recordings with Hank during 1948 and 1949, as well las Jerry Byrd. Don Helms, Hank's most famous steel guitar player uses a double neck, 8 String Gibson and you can click on a web site I will give you to get his tunnings, as well as many, many other steel players of fame here in the U.S.

- My personal experience was: I took lap steel lessons at The American Guitar Studio in Montgomery at ages 11 and 12. I learned on the "A" tunning and changed up some to the A6th Tunning later. It was tunned E - C# - A, E-C# - A (The 4,5 and 6 strings were wound and the first three were wire. It was easy on this tunning. I later went to the E-13th tunning after I got a double neck with 8 strings on each neck; the top neck was E-13 and the bottom neck was an A6th and I changed this tunning several times to get some good western swing. In my final years of playing, I was playing an Emmons Twin 10 with 8 pedals and 4 knee levers. I retired from playing on Jan 1, 1987. I played with Hank Sr. from 1941 (at age 13) until Aug 1944 and went with another band here in Montgomery, playing mostly current country hits at the time, along with some great western swing numbers. I played some dobro in 1985, 1986 and used the A tunning on it - no capro. I also taught steel guitar at the same studio while I was in Junior High and High school and was a certified teacher professional by The American Guitar League.
- Most of the great players today took steel guitar lessons at an early age (Buddy Emmons, for example - probably the best of all steel players). Many of them went to Nashville and took lessons by the pros there that specialize in pedal steel guitar. There are so many great steel players all over the country that it will blow your mind to hear some of them.

The steel guitar, particular the pedal steel guitar, is probably the hardest instrument there is to master. I have played pedal steel for many years and I learn something everytime I sit down to practice or play.

To answer your other questions, I would suggest that you go to the following web site and scroll through the entire site. You can get just about every tuning in existence on both the pedal steel, lap steel and dobro guitar. You can order tablatures, CD's with instructions, books, records, etc. It is a great site. You may also go to Scotty's Music, Inc., Web Site: and get just about. Another great site is on the Web Site: WWW.STEEL GUITAR FORUM.COM

Your questions were quite opposite from stupid. They were interesting and I hope I have helped you a little. By the way, Don Helms has a lot of Hank Sr. songs on CD's and they are all good. You can get his link by clicking on to Nathan Parker's web site.

Thanks for the questions.

Jimmy Porter

I also wanted to add another comment. Back in the 1950's, Audrey Williams was instrumental in helping Johnny Rivers (then John Ramistella) in getting started with his singing career. I believe she arranged for him to appear on the Louisiana Hayride show. Am I right? I took my family to see Hank and Audrey's gravesite in Montgomery around 11 years ago. Thanks for a great website to this legendary singer. Don

Several years ago around 1985, My wife worked with Sam Pruitt's wife at the Cafeteria of Lockheed-Martin in Marietta, Ga. Sam and his wife owned a small cafe in Marietta. My wife visited them at their home, and Sam entertained her with his guitar playing and singing. He was a real character with loads of talent. How long did he play with Hanks band? Thanks, Don Pruitt (no relation).

Question 1. I have never heard of Johnny Rivers and have no way of knowing if audrey arranged for him to appear on the Lousiana Hayride or not. I don't know of anyone who could give you an answer to this question. He is not mentioned in any books about Hank that I have seen. Sorry.

As for Sammy Pruitt (spelled Pruett) in most of the books I have seen but I, myself, had always thought it was Pruitt. Anyway, he played with Hank Sr. during the following periods:

Aug or Sep 1944 - played a short while and left Hank in early 1945 (along with Don Helms).
Jan 1949 - Apr 1949 (Hank disbanded the Cowboys when he left the Louisiana Hayride).
May 1950 until Dec 1951 (Sammy replaced Bob McNett in May 1950).
Both Sammy and Don played (after the Cowboys disbanded in 1951) with other stars in Nashville and did some recording with Ray Price and some others.

Hope this answers you questions about Sammy. He was absolutely a great guitar player and a very likeable person. I loved to hear him play, especially his style of rythm.
Thanks for the questions.

Jimmy Porter

Hello Don,

Thanks for dropping by my Drifting Cowboys Website and for taking the time to write. It is very much appreciated.

From what I've read and heard, Sammy Pruitt first started working with Hank & the Drifting Cowboys in 1944. He didn't stay long...weeks or months. He recorded with Hank in 1948. In 1950 he rejoined the Cowboys, and he stayed until Hank disbanded the band in December 1951. I believe that, though haven't researched it, that he was in the reformed Cowboys in the 1960's. I have seen a group picture of the Cowboys from this time and Sammy is in it.

Also, I've added a new link to Sammy Pruitt's biography. It is an interesting story about an unkown child that he had. A side of Sammy that you may not know.

I'm not sure about the Audrey Williams and Johnny Rivers question, but it would not surprise me if she got him a spot on the Hayride. Audrey placed herself into the center of Music Industry in Nashville. Her house on Franklin Rd. was filled with famous music stars and those new to the field. From what I've heard she helped many people get their start.

Well, I hope this answers your questions. Thanks again for dropping by.

Nathan P
Manager-The Drifting Cowboys Website

Hello Jimmy,
My name is Truitt Martin Pace, I am Freddy Beach's grandson. I have noticed that you do not have a picture of him while he was in Hank and Hezzy's Driftin Cowboys. We have several pictures. I have not asked the rest of the family if they have are aware of the web site or if they would consider sending a picture to you. I would love to send you copies of the photos. I am happy that you offer this web site and would like to put a face on my Grandfather's name. He did not offer to me much history of his music carrer when I was younger. He developed Alzhiemer's disease and I waited to late to discover his history, but again it makes me happy to see a site that recognizes all those who shared in Hank William's history especially since my Grandfather helped contribute.

Thank You
Truitt Martin Pace

Hello Truitt. Thanks for your message regarding your grandfather, Freddy Beach. I knew Freddy well from 1941 until he left Montgomery and worked with him with The Drifting Cowboys with Hank from 1941 until I left in 1944. I also worked with him in the next band I went with in 1944 and he played on occasions with this band "Dad Crysel's Royal Hillbillies". He only played a few jobs but he was a great, left handed fiddle player and was well known in Montgomery. I knew Irella, his wife, also and she was a nice lady.

Freddy went to work with Hank in 1938 and the band first started out as "Hank and Hezzy". Braxton Shuffert also started playing with this band but only stayed for a short while and left the band. The name changed again to Hank and Hezzy and The Drifting Cowboys. Freddy left the band but returned sometime in 1940 and played then and they were called Hank Williams and The Drifting Cowboys. Your grandad was replaced when he left Hank by "Mexican" Charlie Mays; also, Pee Wee Moultrie joined the band in 1939 but only stayed with Hank for a short while and went to work for Dad Crysel's band in 1939-early 1940. Pee Wee was an accordian player.

I do not have an original picture of Freddy with the Drifting Cowboys but it is in a book that I have. I would love to have one if you can spare a copy of it, and I hope this answers your question. Thanks again, and write anytime.

Jimmy Porter
Drifting Cowboy

Dear Jimmy,

I am trying to find information on "Uncle Rufus" Brewster the comedian/musician who played at the Grand Old Opera in Nashville and possibly at the WWVA Wheeling, WVa Jamboree between 1945-1950. I have been searching online, but have been unsuccessful. Can you help me in my search?

I knew Rufus Brewster personally, and grew up with his kids in Quincy, California in the late 50's-early 60's. I spent many happy hours in their house, listening to Rufus play guitar, sing, and tell great stories! I even own one of his guitars, and would love to find any other info I can about his entertaining years in country music.

Thank you,
Bruce P.

"I'm sorry but I don't know anything about Uncle Rufus. I have never heard of this name and just wonder if he could have been a comedian or musician under another name.

I was at the Opry in 1947, but don't remember him at that time. Wish I could help.

Thanks for the message though.
Jimmy P."

Hey Bruce,
I have an idea I haven't been able to follow up on yet. I have a small collection of vintage "Country Song Roundup" magazines. I know that there was at least one story (w/photos) WWVA Jamboree. I'll try to look at them over the next few weeks and let you know if I find anything. Also, I know that the Jamboree put out programs with photos and news about the show and it's performers. I see them up for auction all the time on You might want to look for them from time to time. I think you will have some luck with this.

Well, I let you go for now. I'll let you know if I find anything. Thanks again for writing and I hope you find the information you are looking for.

Sincerely, Nathan P.
Manager-The Drifting Cowboys Website

Mr. Porter,

Have you got Steve Maze's new book about Hank Williams and his Drifting Cowboys? If so, what did you think of it? I was just wondering if it is something Hank fans would enjoy?

Shane M.

Hello Shane. I got Steve's book last week (with his autograph) and have read it from cover to cover I think it pretty well describes all the Drifting Cowboys from early 1941 until the end of Hank's left. Steve did a great job of interviewing the different Cowboys and it is by far the best book about the Drifting Cowboys I have ever read. Even the biographies of those who were never interviewed by Steve were very good. I personally knew the majority of those guys and I don't think anyone could have done a better job. I did some research for Steve on a few of the older ones and I know that this information is correct also. If you don't have a copy and are interested in the Drifting Cowboys, you owe it to yourself to order a copy.

Thanks for the question.

Jimmy Porter, Drifting Cowboy

Do you know where I can get the lyrics to "Sitting alone in an old Rocking Chair". This song was popular in the 40's. Thank you so much. Mary

Hello Mary,
"I was looking through some of my Hank material and found that in the 1942 and 1941 WSFA Radio Program, Hank did the song "Rocking Alone In An Old Rocking Chair" and it was evidentally one of his favorites at the time - he did the song three times on the two shows."

"The words...that I have is different from the words you sent in several places. I am going to type the words that I got from the program(s). Some of the words were not real clear but here goes. I just thought you might like to know about this.

1. Rocking alone in an old rocking chair
I saw an old lady with silvery hair
She looked so neglected by those who should care
Rocking alone in an old rocking chair

2. Her hands were callused and wrinkled and old
A life of hard work was the story they told
And I thought of an angel as I saw her there
Just rocking alone in her old rocking chair

3. Now she's somebody's mother
But now they don't care
They left her alone
For her they no more care
She's now old and feeble
And getting up in years
The've left her alone
In her old rocking chair

4. Now I know some children
In an Ophran's Home
They'd give this whole world
If she was their own
(could not understand the rest of the line)

(The verses 2 through 4 are recitations and he did a good job on this)" - Jimmy P.

hi jimmy can you tell me some of the places hank played in Oklahoma City and in Oklahoma they have torn so much of older places down. i would to know what maybe left. in our old farmers market bldg., there used to be a ballroom /dancehall upstairs many years ago the stage is still there where bob wills played also used to be a place called the trianon ballroom [gone now] where lefty played i think it was on n. walker street my mother gave me a picture that lefty autographed there, and are there any real hank autographs around or just repos? you have a great site and thanks for any info you might have on these questions also hank was said to have bought a gross of pistol style cufflinks at some store here to give to friends i read that in one of the books maybe one of the other guys knows also the place where Toby Marshall lived is still there according to the address in the book snapshots of the lost hiway i would sure like to meet some of the drifting cowboys but doubt that i ever will. i sure like don helms and that steel he plays sorry this is so long thanks Robert

Hello Robert, Thanks for the message from Oklahoma. I have no idea where Hank could have played in Oklahoma and to name some specific places would be impossible for me. I don't ever remember reading or talking to anyone who might have remembered a specific location. I'm almost positive that he played many times in Oklahoma but a specific place or location would be out of the question for me. I'm sorry about this but I have nowhere to look up this information. I went to the Museum today and talked with Beth, the manager, about this and she couldn't shed any light on this either. I'll keepsearching but I don't expect to find out anything. Again, I'm sorry.

Thanks for the question.
Jimmy Porter

Nathan P (manager of The Drifting Cowboys Website) here. When Jimmy says the "Museum" he is talking about the Hank Williams Museum in Montgomery, AL. Jimmy works there. They know about Hank.

You can take a peek at the Time-Line on this website. I have a few Hank & Drifting Cowboys tour dates on their. Also, take a look at my Link Page. I have a link there to another time-line. It has many more tour dates on it. These may have some of the information you are looking for.

Also, I'm sure there are real Hank Williams autographs out there. Sadly, I do not have one. If you are looking for one, here are some clues & hints:

  • Goto a cretified autograph dealer.
  • See it in person... Not over the internet.
  • Most of the Hank autographs I've seen are in pencil. This is not 100%.
  • A cancelled check signed seems like a safer bet. They seem harder to fake. They have dates, etc. I've seen one of these for-sale on-line and Marty Stuart has many of them in his collection. They are out there.
  • Know your Hank History (You seem to know your stuff already). I've seen many fake Hank autographs on items that were not released until after he already had passed (1953). If a person didn't know when Hank died or when the item was produced they would have got burned.
  • If the autograph seems too good to be true (a perfect signature on the perfect item) most likly is!! Remember these items were usually signed fast, under not ideal conditions. Also, 50 years have passed since these items have been signed there will be ware.

    It is very possible for you to get to meet some of the Drifting Cowboys. Many of them are still out there doing shows, including Jimmy Porter, Pee Wee Moultrie, Clent Holmes & Don Helms. A good place to meet them is the annual Hank Williams Festival in Georgiana, AL. It is held the first full weekend in June. I hope to see you there someday.

    I hope this info helps. Thanks for writing!

    Nathan P.

    Hey Robert,
    Its me again, Nathan P. I received a message from Steve Maze the publisher of Yesterday's Memories. He wrote:

    "I noticed a question about Hank performing in Oklahoma. We have a picture of Hank Williams and an Opry troupe taken at radio station KBYE in Oklahoma City in August of 1949. (see page 21 of the June/2003 issue of Yesterday's Memories – with Wimpy Jones on the cover.)Not a whole lot of info., but it might help."

    You can find more info about the issue Steve mentioned or order yourself a copy by contacting him at:

    Yesterday's Memories, PO Box 856, Arab, AL 35016 or (256) 586-2403 or
    also visit their website (

    Thanks For Writing, Nathan P.

    Hello Jimmy

    My name is A.G.Lee and I am 48 yrs old.

    Because of a parental split I never got to meet my Father who's name is A.J.Lee. He use to play The Steel Guitar and was from McKenzie, AL. and played with Hank a bit.

    Did you know him?

    A.G. Lee

    "I knew A.J. Lee real well and told his son in the message I sent you, that I had loaned him my steel guitar back in the sixties to play a couple of jobs. He left Montgomery shortly after...but {to my knowledge} he never worked for Hank. I think he passed away a year or so after I got my guitar back from him." ~ Jimmy

    I have an old "Harmony Boys" music album "Chiming rhyming Harmony Album" which my parents purchased at a gospel singing in the early 1940's. This book was published by STAMPS-BAXTER MUSIC & PRINTING COMPANY, Dallas 8, Texas. The pages have turned brown with age and they have begun to crumble with age.
    There is a forward in the book which states that The Harmony Boys had been with the same radio station WSFA Montgomery Alabama for more than 5 years and had won many awards including the Renfro Valley Quartet Contest in 1944.

    I would like to know if there is a way to obtain a copy of this album.
    Joyce M.

    "I wish I could give you a definite answer on this one but I'll give the best one I can. I have heard of The Harmony Boys around Montgomery but I cannot verify that they played on WSFA Radio for 5 years; actually, I never heard them on radio but I am sure they did some of the Gospel Music shows at the Montgomery City Auditorium, along with The Stamps Baxter Quatet that played some of the shows. The Gospel Shows were big in Montgomery back in the 1940's.
    This is about all the information I can provide on this subject.

    Thanks, Jimmy P."

    Joyce, you may want to check for the Harmony Boys song book. It may take awhile for one to show up, but odds are one will eventually will show for auction. Also, you may get lucky and find some other great H.B.'s items.

    Hope this helps.
    Nathan P.
    Manager-The Drifting Cowboys Website

    My mother bought an old Kay guitar from a gentleman in Texas. He claimed that it was used by his father, Cecil Flournoy, who had apperently played some shows with Hank Williams. He didnt mention this until my mom mentioned that I was a country musician. Upon hearing that it was going to someone who would appreciate its history, he became excited to share this imformation. Does this name sound familiar? Thank you for any imformation that you can give me.

    Chris W.

    "I know that Hank did several shows and dances in Texas, but I doubt that the father was ever a member of the Drifting Cowboys; I have never ever heard his named mentioned nor have I ever read this anywhere." Thanks Jimmy.

    In addition to what Jimmy wrote, I do know that Hank played much in Texas. Often he would pick up band members as he went along. Often local bands would back him up on his shows (such as the Texas Top Hands). So, it is possible that Mr. Flournoy did play with Hank. He may not have been a formal member of Hank's Drifting Cowboys.

    I hope this info helped. Thanks for writing.

    Sincerely, Nathan P.
    Manager-The Drifting Cowboys Website

    Dear Jimmy,
    I recently bought my first Hank Williams record (cd). I thought the sleeve notes might have the names of the back-up band, but it didn't. I'm very interested in knowing who played steel guitar and fiddle on "Hey, Good Lookin' ." Of course, there may have been more than one recording of it. Can you help me out?

    John D.
    Drexel Hill, PA

    "Hey Good Looking was recorded at Castle Studio, Nashville, TN on Mar 16, 1951. The Record Number is MGM 11000 and the musicians were: Don Helms on Steel Guitar, Sammy Pruett (electric guitar), Jack Schook (rhythm guitar) Ernie Newton (bass) and either Owen Bradley or Fred Rose played piano on the record. It was recorded between l:30-5:00PM on the above date." ~ Thanks, Jimmy.

    Howdy Jimmy!

    When I visited Ramblin´ Tommy Scott (Last Real Medicine Show) a few years ago at his residence in Tocca GA, he told me that he was in show together with Hank way back in the late 40ties in Nashville. After the shows, Tommy´s wife Frankie was suposed to drive Hank back to his flat. He always fell asleep on the backseat when he had too much booze and even woke up just in front of his flat where a big neon sign was flashing. He always waked up by the flashing neon sing and said "I Saw The Light". Do you think this gave him the idea to the similar song title?


    Brave Stave
    G E R M A N Y

    PS: I played with my own WS-Band together with Jett and the Drifting Cowboys in a show in the mid 90ties during their Tour in Germany and this was kind of a lifetime- dream for me!

    "...The only thing I know that is true about I Saw The Light is that it did not come from a Neon Flashing Light and Hank was not drunk in the back seat of a car when the idea for the song first came to his mind.

    He was on his way home from a job we had just played at Thigpen's Log Cabin in Georgiana, and it was around 1o'clock in the morning (Sun) when he saw the light from the airport in Montgomery, which could be seen for several miles away and it was used to guide airplanes into the Montgomery area. He said "I SEE the light"'; this meant to him and to the others in the car, that we were close to home. Mrs. Williams was driving the car. Hank was not drunk nor had he been drinking. The idea came a couple of days later and the final manuscript was written and dated in 1947, the best I remember Hank being in Nashville other than a few visits with Audrey to see Fred and Wesley Rose about recording for them; I don't believe he ever played a medicine show in Nashville either; he only did a coule of those in South Alabama and is where he first met Audrey - close to Clio, AL. Hank went to Nashville in 1947 to do his first recordings on the Sterling Label and took three musicians from Montgomery to do his backup on the records (Lum York, L.C. Crysel, and Herman Herring (steel). He did some night clubs in and around Montgomery after this and left Montgomery in 1948 to joing the Louisiana Hayride.

    There have been several people to say they were with him when he said "I see the light" and you can believe anyone you like; I was the first of all the ones who have said this, to actually hear the words from him myself and I was about 15 at the time and had played steel with him that night in Georgiana. This is the truth, so help me.

    Thanks, Jimmy Porter"

    Hello, Jimmy;

    My name is Lem Crysel, and this name has reoccured in my family history for many generations. My father was from Louisiana, and his own family was ultimately from Alabama. My father died when I was a pre-teen, and I ended up living with distant relatives. As a result, I missed out on hearing about a lot of my family history (though I do remember my father saying that my grandfather (also named Lemuel - he was apparently named after an uncle played "a mean fiddle."

    I was wondering if you could tell me anything about Alabama Crysels who were in the Country Music business.
    Lemuel Crysel

    "The Crysel family I played with was a great family. The father of the band was always called "Dad" Crysel. He married a young girl when she was about 14 years old and they had five children - four boys named in order of age: Curtis, played mandolin; Jack was a singer and guitar and bass player; Lemuel (L.C.) played a great fiddle, Billy - played a great banjo and guitar; Vivian was the only daughter and the only child still living and lives in Atlanta, GA., the last I heard. She married a young man from Montgomery named C. E. Murphy but he is now deceased. All the boys had children - mostly boys that are still living; Jack's wife, Lorraine is still living; L.C. was divorced but had a son still living; and Billy's wife lives in Athens, AL and he has children still living.

    This group of musicians put together one of the best bands that I ever worked for from 1944 until June 1947. They disbanded when I left but we remained friends until they all passed away.

    I hope this little information will help you. All the family members except Billy are buried in Montgomery at the Greenwood Cemetary.

    Thanks for letting me share this information on a great family and great musicians."

    Jimmy Porter

    Hi There!

    I work at a nursing home in Alabama where a resident named "James" Smith proudly claims that he sang in the Hank Williams band and, in fact, has HW paraphanalia in his room. From what I've been told, he used to sing in the Resident Talent Show before his health deteriorated, though he still sings "Hey Good Lookin'" on occasion. I tried to find an old photo of him on your site but I don't even see his name listed anywhere. Have you ever heard of him? I'd love to print an old photo and bring it to him, I just know it would light up his life! Thanks! Cheri

    "I do not recall ever hearing the names of John or Jim Smith as being a member of the Drifting Cowboys or an early Hank band. He could have played after Hank left Montgomery because he had so many band members but I really don't know if he played even then - it would only be a wild guess for me and I don't know where anyone could ever find out. Wish I had the answer but I don't."

    Thanks, Jimmy P.

    Hi, There is a beautiful song that I found among the tapes of my Dad's. and He is playing guitar and singing a song titled "The Last Letter" I think. Did Hank Sr. write this song? If not do you know who did and where I can get the words. The little bit I was able to hear of this song is absolutely beautiful. And I would appreciate so much to be able to know all the words to this truely one of a kind song. Thank you so much for your time and hopefully I will finally be able to get the words to this song.
    Also where would I be able to purchase the book "MY LIFE AS A MUSICIAN" by Jimmy Porter. I would love to get it.
    Thanks alot, Gwen M. Jolly Dye (Buddy Jolly's Daughter)
    God Bless You Always!!!

    "The best I can come up with on the song, The Last Letter, Hank did not write the song nor ever record it. He did this song on the 1942 WSFA Radio Show (Apr 1942). He was not the author of the song but rather Rex Griffin wrote it.
    I cannot find it on any discography of Hank's.

    Hank used to sing this song quite frequently in the years that I worked with him and it was a good song."

    Thanks, Jimmy Porter

    Hello Gwen,
    Thanks for writing. For information about ordering Jimmy's book you can click HERE. Also, I think I found the lyrics to "The Last Letter".
    Just click HERE to go to the site. Please let me know if this was the song you were looking for.

    Thanks Again For Writing...
    Sincerely, Nathan P.
    Manager-The Drifting Cowboys Website.

    Jimmy, What can you tell me about a steel guitar player named Buddy Andrews, if you know of him? Thanks alot Richard Jordan

    "The only guy named Andrews that played music in this area was in the mid fifties and he was a great fiddle player (about 18 years old) and he got the notion he wanted to play steel guitar so he quit playing fiddle, bought a pedal steel and learned it in a big hurry. He never played steel in Montgomery but played for some big names and ended up playing for a very popular female singer in Las Vegas. His name was Glenon (Glen) Andrews. He never worked with Hank, but was a big friend of Lamar Morris (from around this area) who married Lecrecia Williams, Hank Juniors step sister. Lamar also played a great lead guitar and sang and was Hank Jr.'s band leader for a good while. Glen retired from music several years ago.

    I don't know if this person has any connection with the one in question but I don't remember any Buddy Andrews unless Glen was using a nickname I was not aware of. Glen also worked with me in the Jack Turner Band in Montgomery for a few months.

    Hope this helps."

    Thanks, Jimmy

    Hello Jimmy,
    I have a question for you about the song "Midnight." On the PBS Special "Hank Williams,Honky Tonk Blues," the song "Midnight" was playing toward the end of this TV show. Was this version done by Hank, or somebody else? I cannot find Hank Williams singing this song on any of his albums!

    Gregg J.

    "I finally got a chance to watch the DVD and played it back two or three times when the song "Midnight" was played. It is very close to the end of the main DVD (not the EXTRA 39 nub). This song was written by Red Foley and they play his record of the song on the DVD. Red Foley is doing the song with a group (?) singing harmony on it. It definitely is not Hank singing nor the drifting cowboys playing (Chet Atkins is the main player on the song along with his rythm style back then)." ~ Jimmy

    Hi Gregg,
    Also, in CMT's recent documentary on Hank Williams, Charles Carr [Hank's driver on his way to Canton, Oh] stated that the last song Hank sang on Earth was Red Foley's "Midnight".

    Hope this answers your quesion. Thanks for asking it.

    Sinerely, Nathan P
    Manager- The Drifting Cowboys Website

    Mr. Porter,
    I read an article in my hometown newspaper regarding my grandfather, (Little) David Simmons, a steel guitar player from Paris, TN. It stated that he was in Canton, OH when Hank Williams died waiting to play the concert with the Drifting Cowboys. I was wondering if there was any truth to this. My grandfather died in 1978 before I was born, so I cannot ask him. My father said that my grandfather had played all over the south at the same time as Hank Williams, so I was just wondering if you had ever heard of him. Thank you for your time,
    Lori K. Simmons

    Hello Lori.
    I wish I could have known your grandfather but I never did; he must have been a fine steel player if he was good enough to play for Hank.

    I have personally heard Don Helms say that he was hired by Hank to play the show in Canton, OH but never got to do the show because Hank passed away on the trip to Canton. Don is a friend of mine and I heard him say on several occasions that it is true.

    I am going to quote you from a book about this performance (that Hank didn't get to do). Hopefully this will clear up the question for you. "Akron deejay Cliff Rodgers from WHKK went out and took the microphone to make the announcement: Ladies and gentlemen, he said, I've been in show business almost twenty years, and I've been called upon to do many difficult things in front of an audience, but today I'm about to perform the most difficult task I have ever done. This morning on his way to Canton to do this show, Hank Williams died in his car. Hank Williams is dead." Backstage the case could hear some weeping. Some of the cast was crying too. A single spotlight was directed at the empty stage as Drifting Cowboys, playing behind the curtain, played "I Saw The Light"". I believe that Don has said many times, this was the saddest moment of his life.

    Also to appear on the show was Cowboy Copas, who they say gave the performance of his life. (It could possible be that your grandfather played the show with Copas).

    I hope this little bit of info may help. If not, Don Helms lives in Nashville but I don't have his email address or his address. You could possibly get it off the "Link" page on Nathan's Web Page. I do appreciate you asking the question.

    Jimmy Porter

    Dear Jimmy Porter,
    Maybe you can help me. I would like to see how to update the page that has the original Drifting Cowboys Members. My Father (Buddy Jolley) played with Hank Sr. in Hanks bands all over the South,such as Ala., Louisiana, Florida, Nashville, etc.. My Daddy played guitar, fiddle, drums, really any instrument but his preference was always his many guitars. My Father was born on 3/20/1920 in Alpine,Al. Then lived in Sylacauga,Al. My father was friends of (Sammy Pruett, R.D."Sonny" Norred, Waymon Masters, Neal McCormick) and that is just a few. My Father always spoke of his times with Hank (His Best Friend) like performing with him at the Grand Ole Opry. The La. Hayride and in Florida where my Dad Met my Mother (Florence Lee Jolley) I am the baby of 8 children and love my Daddy more than words. I really would love to speak with you concerning my Dad, and to see if you may recall meeting him. My Daddy always spoke of Hank Williams Sr in such loving and caring ways, Hank is truely a special one of a kind Man,as is My Father...Thank You So Much For Your Time and I'd love to hear from you soon if possible,
    Sincerely (Gwen Jolley)

    Hello Gwen.
    I knew your dad "Buddy" Jolley well while he was in Montgomery. As a matter of fact, he played with Dad Crysel's Band, The Royal Hillbillies, at the same time as I did. In this band we had Wimpy Jones, Charles Norris on Bass, Buddy Jolley on Fiddle, Ray Howard played rhythm guitar (Wimpy was a great lead guitar player but could play any instrument better than anyone I ever knew). He didn't stay in our band too long, probably a couple of months, and moved on. He came back later but I really don't know if or when he played for Hank but he was certainly good enough to play Fiddle with anyone. I played with Hank from Mar 1941 thru mid Aug 1944 and he never worked with Hank on a job that I played with him. I think he came back to Montgomery around 1945/1946 soon after R.D. Norred came to Montgomery and worked with The Crysel's Number 2 Band and could have worked with either the Crysel's again or he could have played with Hank. I think R. D. would know more about this since they both lived in Sylacauga and knew one another. I wish I could be more specific about him playing with Hank but I just really didn't know of it nor have I ever heard this.

    Your father is mentioned in my book "My Life as a Musician" that I wrote about Hank and other stars that I worked with. I mention his name among the great musicians that I had the pleasure to work with. His name is on page 12 of my book.

    The first Original Drifting Cowboys consisted of Boots Harris on Steel (I replaced Boots on Steel on the night before he left Hank in 1941); Freddy Beach was playing fiddle, Rufus (Puddin) Taylor played bass and comedy, Paul Dennis and Red Todd played rythm guitar. I'm sure that you know that many, many people worked for Hank and would only stay a short time from 1944 to around 1947-48. They couldn't stay long because Hank was not working on a regular basis and most of the men had to work to support themselves and many had familes to support. The above were the Original Drifting Cowboys formed in late 1940. Even Boots Harris only stayed a short while and I replaced him.

    I have your email address and will be happy to correspond with you. You can get RD's address off the Drifting Cowboys Website of Nathan.

    Thanks for writing.
    Jimmy Porter

    How old was Hank when you started playing with him?
    "...he was 18 (I was 13) but turned 19 in Sept 1941 (I turned 13 in Mar 1941 and went to work with Hank playing steel guitar about a week after I turned 13."

    What songs did Hank sing when you were with him?
    "Some of the songs I remember playing with him were: Happy Rovin' Cowboy, The Last Letter, I'll Never Cry Over You, Calling You, Lonesome Valley, Rubber Dolly, Beautiful Brown Eyes, Rocking Alone In an Old Rocking Chair, Why Do You Treat Me As If I were Only Your Friend, Please Don't Let Me Love You, Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain, Steel Guitar Rag, Blue Steel Blues, Walk Across Texas, I'm Praying For The Day That Peace Will Come. There were many others also."

    Ask Jimmy


    The Drifting Cowboys Website