Did you know that Hunter Hayes, now known for his hit songs “Wanted” and “Somebody’s Heartbreak,” once shared a stage with Bocephus, aka Hank Williams Jr.? Yes, you read that right. He was four at the time, and his song choice for their performance was something you’d never expect from someone that young. While every kid his age was singing nursery rhymes, he was belting Hank Williams’ “Jambalaya (On The Bayou).”
In a podcast interview, Hayes shared how he got acquainted with Hank Williams Jr. As the story goes, they had a family friend named Rocky (and his wife) who liked to do jam sessions every Sunday. And there were only two kinds of people in the world, according to the singer: “Those who haven’t met Rocky yet and those who are Rocky’s best friend.” Rocky knew a lot of famous people, and it was he who introduced Hayes to Hank Williams Jr. – and even Merle Haggard when he came to their town.
Jambalaya on Accordion
“I have a very special guest I want to bring out here now,” Hank Williams Jr. addressed the 200,000-big crowd in Lafayette, Louisiana, as seen in the video below. He continued, “This is little Hunter Hayes.” The camera then panned to a pint-sized musician carrying an accordion that was almost as big as him. Most would probably get nervous about having such a large audience, but Hayes wasn’t. He strutted toward the singer with so much confidence.
Williams Jr. then bent down on one knee and asked Hayes what he was going to do. To which he adorably responded, “I’m gonna do something called Jambalaya.” And then, he wasted no time and went straight to it. The moment he started playing his accordion, everyone, including the country superstar, was blown away. Williams Jr. started tapping, cued in his band, and even ad-libbed a “Yee-haw,” hyping up the crowd even more.
After Hayes’ skillful accordion intro, he began singing the song, and the crowd cheered loudly. He was having so much fun and looked so natural on stage. When he finished the first verse, he went back to playing his accordion. The crowd was dancing to the tune and having the time of their lives.
Hank Williams Jr. took over the second verse, and then, for the last part of the song, Hayes once again impressed the crowd with his skills.
In 2011, he burst into the country music scene with his chart-topping self-titled debut album. Aside from that, his second single off the same album, titled “Wanted,” hit number one on the Hot Country Songs chart. Since then, Hayes has become an established name in the industry.
Watch Hunter Hayes’ live performance of “Jambalaya” with Hank Williams Jr.