In 1937 when Hank was 14, Lillie and the family moved to Montgomery Alabama, and she opened a boarding house there. Young Hank started writing songs, and won a prize in a local contest for his first one, WPA Blues, of $15. He also began busking in front of the studios of WSFA radio, and soon attracted the attention of the management. They gave him a 15 minute show 2 times a week, and paid him well for his time. His popularity grew in the area and he put together his first band called the Drifting Cowboys when he was only 15. A year later Hank and the group could start working full time, and he dropped out of school to become a touring performer at 16. While they played all over the south as far away as Florida, Hank began drinking to excess and having problems with the band early on. When most of the original members were drafted in 1941 at the start of WWII, he had even more difficulties with replacements, who wouldn't put up with his drunken behavior. At this point he was also fired from the radio show at WSFA for being drunk while on the air. Hank Williams was 19 years old, and already following a hard road that eventually led to his death.
By 1945, Hank was married, writing and performing again after a few years break, and back on the radio in Montgomery. The next year he and his wife Audrey went to Nashville, where Hank auditioned for Fred Rose and got a small contract. In 1947, he was signed to MGM and had his first big hit, Move It On Over. After working hard at touring and on a new radio show, he was accepted to perform at the Grand Ole Opry in 1949, the same year that his son Hank Williams Jr was born.
During this time he had been able to keep his alcoholism under control, but in 1951 he suffered a fall while hunting and hurt his back. He began to use prescription pain medications in excess and began the use if controlled substances as well. In 1952 he was fired from the Opry due to his substance abuse problems, which now included alcohol, prescription painkillers, and morphine. His last recording sessions were in September of 1952, and he had begun to have heart problems at this time. On New Year's Day, 1953, Williams was being driven in his Cadillac to a show in West Virginia. The night before he had been given an injection by his doctor, and he had been drinking heavily through the night. In the wee hours of the morning, somewhere between Bristol, Virginia and Oak Hill, West Virginia, he died of heart failure brought on by pills and alcohol, at the age of 29. The police found the back of the car where he had been sitting littered with empty beer cans and a sheaf of handwritten lyrics to unfinished songs. These were later put together in 2011 as a music collection titled The Lost Notebooks Of Hank Williams (see below).
His grave is in the Oakwood Annex Cemetery in Montgomery, Alabama.