The unusual name Bocephus first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in 1986:
- 1988: unlisted
- 1987: unlisted
- 1986: 7 baby boys named Bocephus [debut]
- 1985: unlisted
- 1984: unlisted
Where did it come from?
The 1986 song “My Name Is Bocephus” (pronounced boh-SEE-fuss) by Hank Williams, Jr.
Billboard described the song as “Muddy Waters-style blues” in its review of Hank’s album Montana Cafe, which reached #1 on the Top Country Albums chart in September. The song was also released as the B-side to the single “Mind Your Own Business,” which hit #1 on the Hot Country Songs chart later the same year.
“My Name Is Bocephus” apparently became popular enough on its own, though, to warrant the making of a music video. That video, which came out in early 1987, ended up winning the CMA’s Music Video of the Year award.
So…why would a guy named Hank write a song declaring that his name is “Bocephus”?
Because Bocephus was his childhood nickname. And a rather public one at that.
Hank, Jr., was born Randall Hank Williams in 1949 to country music legend Hiram “Hank” Williams and his first wife Audrey. Hank, Sr., nicknamed his son Bocephus after Grand Ole Opry comedian Rod Brasfield’s ventriloquist dummy.
Hank, Sr., died on the first day of 1953, when his son was three-and-a-half. During the short time they had together, though, he would end his radio performances with a message to his son — something like “Don’t worry, Bocephus, I’m coming home.” In this Feb. 1951 “Mother’s Best” radio show, for instance, you can hear Hank say “Bocephus, see you directly son” at 27:09.
What are your thoughts on the baby name Bocephus?
- Career biography – Hank Williams, Jr.
- Country Music Association Award for Video of the Year – Wikipedia
- Hank Williams Jr. – Billboard
- Hank Williams Jr. – Wikipedia
- “Reviews.” Billboard 5 Jul. 1986: 72.
- Rod Brasfield – Wikipedia
- Stambler, Irwin and Grelun Landon. Country Music: The Encyclopedia. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000.
P.S. Hank, Sr.’s second wife was Billie Jean Horton.