Big Bill Lister, Who Rediscovered “There’s a Tear in My Beer,” Dies at 86

Big Bill Lister, a former member of Hank Williams’ Drifting Cowboys who later rediscovered a forgotten acetate recording of “There’s a Tear in My Beer,” died Tuesday (Dec. 1) in San Antonio. He was 86. A native Texan who stood 6 foot 7 inches tall, Lister moved to Nashville in 1951 at the recommendation of Tex Ritter. He opened concerts for Williams before joining the Drifting Cowboys. He was a member of the group when it disbanded in 1952. After moving back to Texas, Lister began to record for Capitol Records. Lister said he needed a drinking song to record, so Williams gave him an acetate demo recording of “There’s a Tear in My Beer,” which Lister later found in his retirement and gave to Hank Williams Jr. The younger Williams overdubbed his vocals on the track and released it as a single and music video in 1989. The new recording won a Grammy and a CMA award.