Charles Carr, the Auburn University freshman who chauffeured Hank Williams on his final ride, died Monday (July 1) in Montgomery, Ala., after a lengthy illness. He was 79.
On Dec. 30, 1952, the 29-year-old Williams hired Carr to drive him in his 1952 powder blue Cadillac from Montgomery to concert dates in Charleston, W.Va., and Canton, Ohio. It was snowing all along the way, and travel was especially slow and hazardous along mostly two-lane roads. The two men spent the first night in Birmingham, Ala.
On the afternoon of the second day, they checked into a hotel in Knoxville, Tenn., after a flight Williams chartered to take him to Charleston was turned back because of the snow. Late that same evening, Carr had the hotel’s porters carry the exhausted and unconscious singer (he had earlier been given two shots of morphine) to the Cadillac to resume the journey to Canton since it had become apparent they could not make the Charleston show.
In Oak Hill, W.Va., the next morning, Carr stopped and found Williams cold, unresponsive and lying essentially in the same position in the back seat of the car where the porters in Knoxville had placed him. He was pronounced dead at the Oak Hill hospital at 7 a.m. on Jan. 1, 1953.
Initially, Carr was reluctant to talk about the “death ride,” but he eventually added his own voice to the shaping of Williams legend. In Montgomery, he worked in investment and real estate until his retirement.
Funeral plans for Carr have yet to be announced.