He was only 29 when he died, but he left behind a legacy as one of the most influential country musicians in history. He had 11 number one hit songs in his short career, aside from many other top ten chart-makers. His songs span the spectrum of country, pop, gospel, blues and rock, and have been performed by artists like Elvis Presley, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Tony Bennett, Louis Armstrong and Linda Ronstadt. But, apparently, Hank Williams was a lot busier than everyone thought.

A new collection of hitherto unheard songs by Hank Williams is due to be released in an album called “The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams”. The twelve tracks in the album will be sung by country stars like Alan Jackson, Bob Dylan, Norah Jones, Jack White and Merle Haggard. Left behind in a leather briefcase when he died, the lyrics and song ideas were completed by the artists who cooperated to put the album together as a tribute to one of country music's greats.

Born Hiram King Williams on September 17, 1923, he changed his name to “Hank” because it seemed to fit in better with country music. Hank Williams was born with a spinal column disorder which affected him all throughout his life. His father suffered a crippling injury when he was young and he had to help the family survive by selling peanuts, shining shoes and delivering newspapers.

As a young man, Williams met Rufus “Tee-Tot” Payne, a busker who taught Williams how to play the guitar in exchange for food. Although Payne's basic style was the blues, he taught Williams chords, bass turns and an accompaniment style that would shape Williams' musical creations throughout his life. Hank Williams always claimed that Rufus Payne was his only teacher.

Williams started busking outside the WSFA radio studios, eventually found himself hosting a 15-minute show twice a week and this proved to be his big break. He started his own band, The Drifting Cowboys. When World War II broke out, most of the members were drafted into the army and the band disintegrated. This, plus a worsening addiction to alcohol in order to relieve his back pain got him fired and he went to work at a shipyard.

After the war ended, he married his wife, Audrey, who also became his manager. His fortunes started to rise with a series of successful song releases and he soon became a local celebrity. These were followed by huge hits across the nation and he gained a place in the Grand Ole Opry, from which he had been rejected two years earlier and where he became the first performer to get six encores.

His battle with alcohol continued and led to heart problems. Williams died on New Year's Day in 1953 on the way to a concert. Such is his renown that localities in the area are still debating exactly what time he died and where exactly he died.

Hank Williams alive was not without surprises in the world of music. “The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams” may reveal a lot more.