Hank Sr: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images, Hank Jr: Paul Natkin/WireImage, Elvis: Courtesy of Metro Goldwyn Mayer/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images, Karen: Karen Waldrup / Facebook, Charley: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Hank Williams’ “Jambalaya” Has Been Covered By Countless Artists – Here Are The 10 Best!
Hank Williams’ infectious tune, “Jambalaya (On the Bayou),” is a cornerstone of American country music. Released in 1952, it quickly ascended the charts, peaking at #1 on the Billboard Country & Western chart, where it stayed for an impressive 14 weeks. The song’s popularity endured, earning it a spot among Williams’ greatest hits.
“Jambalaya” is a spirited celebration of Louisiana culture, its lyrics painting a vivid picture of Creole life, gumbo parties, and the lively atmosphere of the bayou. Hank Williams, known for his masterful songwriting, penned the track in a remarkably short amount of time, drawing inspiration from Cajun traditions and his own experiences.
Williams’ remarkable ability to blend storytelling with infectious melodies shines through in “Jambalaya,” creating a song that resonates across generations. Its enduring popularity and widespread cover versions by artists from various genres attest to its status as a true musical treasure, ensuring that the bayou’s spirit lives on in the hearts of listeners worldwide.
It was even in the wedding scene in the movie Steel Magnolias.
Over the last 71 years, countless artists – in all genres – have covered the iconic tune. Here are some standouts!
Charley Pride And Tom T. Hall
In 1981, Charley Pride and Tom T. Hall performed a medley of Hank Williams hits including “Kaw-Liga,” “Why Don’t You Love Me,” “Jambalaya,” “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.”
Elvis Presley performed “Jambalaya” live only one time in his career, on May 4, 1975. Unfortunately there is no video, but take a listen to the audio above!
Before taking the stage to sing the Hank Williams hit, Brenda Lee was introduced by Hank Williams Jr., who said they first met when she was 12 years old and he was eight! he also admitted to having a crush on her and thinking she was something special. Now grown adults, he said he still had a crush and she still is special!
Jimmy C. Newman
Performing on Larry’s Country Diner, Jimmy C. Newman sang “Jambalaya” with the help of some friends. According to Larry’s Country Diner’s YouTube page, “The late great Jimmy is often credited for giving Dolly Parton her first Opry appearance-he gave up his second song to her back in 1959 when she was 13.”
Hank Williams III
Hank Williams’ eldest grandson took on his tune back in 1995 when he was 22 years old. Hank 3 has always resembled his late grandfather and in this particular performance, he dressed an awful lot like him as well!
The eventual winner of season 17 of American Idol performed “Jambalaya” during the finale, and it helped him win!
The talented singer-songwriter Karen Waldrup performed “Jambalaya” for Country Rebel for their Fireside Sessions a few years ago!
Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis and Ray Charles
Three legendary singers came together to perform “Jambalaya.” Those three singers were the iconic Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Ray Charles!
Hank Williams Jr.
Of course, Hank Jr. is on this list. The only son of the legendary Hank Williams, Hank Jr. actually started his career as a Hank Williams tribute act when he was a kid. He has performed the song countless times in his career, so we included a couple versions. Here is his 1964 recorded version:
And a live performance of “Jambalaya” in 1977.
We think Hank would have loved all of these covers!