Hank Williams Jr. Survived a 440-Foot Drop Off a Mountain and Split His Skull Open

Hank Williams Jr. is famous for his signature look of a heavy beard and sunglasses. However, did you know that those elements of his style were due to a serious accident? The country star took a serious tumble while mountain-climbing, with many certain that he would die. 

Hank Williams Jr. performs on stage
Hank Williams Jr | Paul Natkin/Getty Images

Hank Williams Jr’s career in country music

Williams is the son of fellow country legend Hank Williams, and he has made his own mark on the country music genre. His famous father died just a few years after Williams was born, but many musicians did their best to fill in.

Artists like Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Fats Domino stepped in to teach him about music and how to play different instruments. 

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Williams started his career singing his father’s hits, but by the 1970s, he was making his own name in the music industry with hits like “Family Tradition,” “A Country Boy Can Survive,” “Dinosaur,” and “If Heaven Ain’t A Lot Like Dixie.” He was even inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2020. 

However, this illustrious music career might have never happened. Williams survived a serious fall while hiking in 1975. 

The serious fall that nearly took Hank Williams Jr’s life

The singer was hiking Montana’s Mount Ajax when the snow beneath him gave way. Describing the terrifying event in a 1976 interview, Williams remembered falling and hitting his head on a boulder on his way down. Once he stopped falling, the singer recalled not being able to feel any pain because he was in shock. 

“I looked at my hands first. I’ve been shot, cut up, and hurt before, and I looked at my hands immediately. They were alright,” he continued. As a musician, Williams was understandably most concerned about his ability to continue playing guitar. 

“The blood was coming out and I grabbed my face and there wasn’t any face there, hardly … I had a great big hole from my nose up to my hairline, is what it amounted to. I could put my fingers into my forehead.”


Williams fell 440 feet, sustaining massive injuries to his head and face. According to Taste of Country, the artist’s “face was split open down the middle, hairline to chin as if struck with an axe.”

His climbing partner went for help, leaving his 11-year-old son with the singer. The group was over 100 miles from the closest hospital, so Williams was airlifted by helicopter to a hospital in nearby Missoula. 

How the injuries influenced his personal appearance  

The fall fractured his skull in several places, and many were sure he would die. Thankfully, Williams survived. It took two years for the country star to recover fully, and from then on, he was rarely seen without a beard and sunglasses. These things helped to cover up the scars left from his accident. 

Country music fans are happy that Williams survived his near-fatal fall and that he has continued his remarkable career in the country music industry. 

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