Collectors Find Lost Hank Williams' Notebook


What might be called the Holy Grail of country music has been discovered in Nashville Tenessee


The long lost notebook of country legend Hank Williams contains hand-scribbled, never-recorded songs and the mystery of its existence has been talked about for almost 60 years.Hank Williams

This huge discovery will no doubt lead to an industry-shaking legal battle.

Hank Williams's life is now bigger than life.

His songs and death at age 29 still launch questions of what could have been.

Maybe now some answers can be found in that 59 year old tattered brown notebook filled with songs he never lived to record.

"It's just so rich in history, a lot of early career material (that was) never recorded, early career of Hank Williams is very significant," Stephen Shutts said.

For country music history collectors Shutts and Robert Reynolds, it's a significant find.

"A chill went through my body, and it was then I realized we were holding exactly what I had a hunch we were holding," Reynolds said.

Young HankHand-scribbled lyrics from 17 never recorded songs titled: "Tomorrow May Not Come, I Wish I had a Dad, and Honky Tonkin' Mama."

"Something about the way he says 'listen to me little gal, you better quit your foolin' around and honky tonkin' mama,' you know you can hear that in his voice. It doesn't take a lot of imagination," Reynolds said.

It is also not hard to imagine the fight that's coming over ownership of a collector's piece appraised for several-hundred-thousand dollars.

Sony Music Publishing believes it owns all things Hank and has demanded the notebook be turned over to them.

The fight will involve money and raise notebook questions such as whether or not the notebook was stolen from a Sony safe.

The collectors said it was found outside the building, thrown away in a dumpster by a former Sony janitor and then sold at a yard sale.

Metro detectives are now on the case.

Reynolds and Shutt believe an interview is just the beginning of a long fight.Hank on stage

"But I'm up for the challenge because I take pride in the work we do and I do believe we do it with integrity and honesty," Reynolds said.

Reynolds and Shutt own the Honky Tonk Hall of Fame and more than 1,000 country music artifacts and said they believe the notebook belongs in the Country Music Hall of Fame or even the Smithsonian.

They said they want it known that their collection business is not a small, bubble gum card kind of hobby.

The two have spent countless hours and dollars searching for artifacts like this, and when they legitimately find one, they expect respectful treatment and a financial payoff.

So far, according to Reynolds, they have not received either.

Sony Music Publishing CEO Troy Tomlinson did not return phone calls.

Update 5 Nov 2006
Two people have been arrested for stealing the notebook that once belonged to Hank Williams. A music memorabilia collector and a former custodian at Sony/ATV Music Publishing turned themselves in and are released on bond. Stephen M. Shutts said he had purchased the 59-year-old notebook of lyrics at a garage sale and later sold it for an undisclosed amount. Francine Boykin told police she had found the notebook in the trash while working in the Sony/ATV building.

Visit The Honky Tonk Hall of Fame's Website




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