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On a warm night in June, 1949, with his first number one record spilling out of radios across the country, a frail young man walked onto the stage of Nashville's Ryman Auditorium for his Grand Ole Opry debut. Behind him lay nearly a decade of struggle and rejection in pursuit of this goal; ahead, a little more than five years in the limelight. By 1953, literally worn out at twenty-nine, Hank Williams was gone. But he had given country music much of its standard repertoire, a new definition of stardom and a legend so enduring that he is still the model for countless singers and songwriters.