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Hank Williams’ heirs own rights to recordings

Appeals court awarded rights to Hank Williams Jr. and Jett Williams
/ Source: The Associated Press

The right to sell some old recordings by Hank Williams belongs to the country music legend’s heirs, an appeals court has ruled.

The Friday decision by the Tennessee Court of Appeals upholds a lower court ruling, which rejected Polygram Records’ and Legacy Entertainment Group’s claims to the recordings in favor of the late legend’s son, Hank Williams Jr., and daughter, Jett Williams.

The recordings are pre-produced segments Williams made for “Mother’s Best Flour Show,” a 15-minute show that once aired on WSM-AM 650.

They include live versions of some of Williams’ greatest hits, plus 40 songs that were never released commercially, such as “On Top of Old Smoky” and “Blue Eyes Cryin’ in the Rain.”

Legacy Entertainment acquired the recordings in 1997 from Williams’ former bassist Hillous Butrum and claimed it had the right to sell them.

Polygram contended that it owned the rights because of a contract Williams had with MGM Records.

But the trial court ruled in 2003 that the two heirs own the property and only they can release it.

Williams was found dead in the back seat of his Cadillac in West Virginia on New Year’s Day 1953.