Wednesday, July 10, 2013


Living Proof presents the story of Hank Williams, Jr. starting with his early years, where his career was guided by his mother as she molded him into basically a Hank Sr. impersonator. The movie continues with Hank, Jr. leaving his mother and searching for his own sound. This era of Hank Jr.'s life is also dominated by a lot of partying and drug use. Just after Hank Jr. records his watershed album, Hank Williams Jr. and Friends, he has a tragic accident falling off the side of a mountain and breaking every bone in his skull. With the help of friends and family he is able to make a comeback from the accident with his own sound, and no longer be considered to be riding on the coattails of his famous father.

Richard Thomas portrays Hank Jr. and sings Sr.'s songs in the first half of the movie and lip synch's Jr.'s songs in the latter half of Living Proof. There were two other country musicians of note in this film: Naomi Judd of The Judds has a small part as as a groupie who, according to the film, was Hank Jr.'s first sexual encounter. The other musician is Merle Kilgore (writer of Wolverton Mountain and co-writer of Ring of Fire amongst other songs) who plays himself, a close friend of Hank Jr. in the movie and in real-life, and he does a fine job in his role. Also, Mickey Jones (drummer for Bob Dylan, First Edition, Johnny Rivers, and Trini Lopez) appears in many scenes.

I had seen Living Proof when it first aired on TV in 1983. Richard Thomas had just finished his run on The Waltons a few years prior and it seemed odd for him to play Hank Jr. In 1983, Hank Jr. was in full country outlaw mode having already recorded the classics “Family Tradition” and “Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound,” and here he was being played by clean cut John Boy Walton, it almost seemed like a joke. Looking back now, Hank Jr. was a pretty clean cut looking guy, as can be seen in his only starring movie, A Time To Sing. Since time has passed, and I no longer strictly think of Richard Thomas as John Boy, I  can see see what a good actor he was and what a great job he did in portraying Hank Jr. While I can't vouch for the accuracy of the movie (however it was based on Hank Jr.'s book of the same name), I can without hesitation recommend this film for any Hank, Jr. fan.

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