By Steve Gillespie / email@example.com
The Meridian Star
Terry Faust was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a young child.
"The other kids didn't want to play with me. I couldn't keep up with them," he said. "But Hank was right there. He was no further than the radio or a record player."
Hank Williams' music was Faust's childhood friend and constant companion from the time he was 6 years old. Today Faust takes care of the country music legend's grave in Montgomery, Ala.
Inspired and influenced by Hank Williams' music, Faust has written about 100 songs. His songs have been recorded by artists in Montgomery, and he's collaborated with others music industry song writers. Recently he recorded an album called "The Grave Tender," produced by Allen Delk of Allen Delk Management in Columbus, Miss., and he has two performances scheduled in Lauderdale County for Saturday, Dec. 8.
The first show Saturday will be at the grand opening of Natural Foods Country Store, 2211 Fifth St., in downtown Meridian, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. The second show Saturday will be at Simmons-Wright General Store on Highway 11/80 in Kewanee at 5 p.m. Admission is free.
The date Dec. 8 is significant in Hank Williams history. It was Dec. 8, 1952 when he last performed in Mississippi according to Delk and Faust. It was a concert in Gulfport. Both men said they weren't aware of the significance of the date when they arranged the two concerts that will be held on the 60th anniversary of that occasion.
Hank Williams was pronounced dead on the morning of Jan. 1, 1953, while on the way to an engagement in Ohio. He was being driven by a young man Williams hired named Charles Carr.
Faust calls himself a story-telling songwriter. He shares the first-hand accounts he's collected over the years from people who knew Hank Williams, like Carr, who Faust is friends with today. He also tells the stories of how Williams influenced his life and music.
Don't ask Faust to play a Hank Williams song, however.
"I don't do any Hank covers," Faust said in a recent telephone interview. "Hank Williams don't need no help from me."
Since 1999 he has volunteered in some capacity with the Hank Williams Museum in Montgomery, Ala. Since 2010 Faust has served as grave tender of the Hank Williams grave site, which is about a mile from the museum. Faust said the museum has about 50,000 visitors a year, and the grave has about 60,000 visitors a year.