Henry Horenstein began documenting the country-music scene nearly fifty years ago. Having spent a lifetime around performers and fans, he has been granted access to the high-glamour back stage at the Grand Ole Opry in its heyday as well as the rough-and-tumble dive bars and family-friendly festivals.
Made between 1972 and 2011, “Honky Tonk: Portraits of Country Music,” both the title of Horenstein’s series and book, includes portraits of country music legends, such as Hank Williams, Jr., Dolly Parton, DeFord Bailey, Waylon Jennings, Pee Wee King, and Tammy Wynette, as well as photographs that record the culture of country music with its performers, honky tonks, and patrons.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.
Whether you go or not, Honky Tonk: Portraits of Country Music is the definitive monograph of Horenstein’s beloved honky tonk photographs. 120 black-and-white photographs from 1972 through 2011 capture the irrepressible spirit of an American institution as it has evolved over the years. Familiar stars including Dolly Parton, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ralph Stanley, and Tammy Wynette are seen here alongside the familiar venues and enthusiastic fans that sustained them. Forty years after Henry Horenstein began documenting the country music scene in and around Nashville, his deep love for the music and its people continues. Having spent a lifetime around performers and fans, he has been granted access to both the high-glamour backstage of the Grand Ole Opry in its heyday of the 1970s and the rough-and-tumble dive bars that carry on the tradition today.