US country singer, songwriter, and guitarist. He was the author of dozens of country standards and one of the originators of modern country music. His songs are characteristically mournful and blues-influenced, like ‘Your Cheatin' Heart’ (1953), but also include the uptempo ‘Jambalaya’ (1952) and the proto-rockabilly ‘Hey, Good-Lookin'’ (1951).
Williams was born in Alabama, learned guitar from a black street singer, and formed his band the Drifting Cowboys in 1937. Their sparse honky-tonk (dance-hall) sound featured fiddle and steel guitar. ‘Lovesick Blues’ (1949), which Williams did not write, was his first number-one country hit and he quickly became the genre's biggest star. He is credited with more than 100 songs, including ‘Move It On Over’ (1947), ‘I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry’ (1949), ‘Why Don't You Love Me’ (1950), ‘You Win Again’ (1952), ‘Kaw-Liga’ (1952), and ‘I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive’ (a posthumous hit in 1953).