Sunday, 10 March 2013
Ronnie Hawkins born 10 March 1935
Ronald "Ronnie" Hawkins (born 10 January 1935, Huntsville, Arkansas, United States) is a pioneering rock and roll musician and cousin to fellow rockabilly pioneer Dale Hawkins. Known as "Rompin' Ronnie" Hawkins or "The Hawk," he was a key player in the 1960s rock scene in Toronto and for the next 40 years, performed all over North America, recording more than twenty-five albums. His best-known hits are "Forty Days" and "Mary Lou" (about the song narrator's experiences with a gold digging woman), both were major hits for him in 1959.
At the age of nine, his family moved to nearby Fayetteville. After graduating from high school, he studied physical education at the University of Arkansas where he formed his first band, The Hawks, touring with them throughout Arkansas, Oklahoma and Missouri. Hawkins also owned and operated the Rockwood Club in Fayetteville where some of
Rock music's earliest pioneers came to play including Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison and Conway Twitty. Hawkins came to Canada in 1958. His first gig was at the Brass Rail Tavern (on Conway Twitty's advice) in London, Ontario where he became an overnight success. It was a result of Hawkins success in London that he decided to move to Canada permanently. His career spans over five decades and 25 records. His hits include, “Forty Days”, “Mary Lou”, and “Hey Bo Diddley”.
In 1958, he moved to Canada with the Hawks and made Peterborough, Ontario his permanent home. Gradually the members of the Hawks, except for Levon Helm, were replaced with talented Canadians Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel and Garth Hudson. This was the line-up that was to later become The Band.
In December 1969 Hawkins hosted John Lennon and Yoko Ono for a stay at his Mississauga, Ontario home during the couple's Peace campaign. John Lennon signed his erotic "Bag One" lithographs during his stay at Hawkins' farm. Lennon also did a radio promo for a Ronnie Hawkins single entitled "Down In The Alley".
In the early 1970s, Hawkins noticed guitarist Pat Travers performing in Ontario nightclubs and was so impressed with the young musician he invited him to join his band. Travers later had a very successful recording career and became one of the most influential guitarists of the 1970s hard rock genre.
In 1975 Bob Dylan cast Hawkins as 'Bob Dylan' in the movie, Renaldo and Clara. The following year he was a featured performer at the Band's Thanksgiving Day farewell concert, which was documented in the 1978 film The Last Waltz.His 1984 LP, 'Making It Again', garnered him a Juno Award as Canada's best Country Male Vocalist. In addition to his music, he has also become an accomplished actor, hosting his own television show Honky Tonk in the early 1980s and appearing in such films as Heaven's Gate with his friend Kris Kristofferson and Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II.
4 October 2002 was declared "Ronnie Hawkins Day" by the city of Toronto when Hawkins was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame in recognition of his lifetime contribution to music and his generous support of the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario and other charitable organizations. Hawkins was inducted into the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame at the Canadian Music Industry Awards on 4 March 2004. His pioneering contribution to the genre has also been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.
In recent years, Hawkins battled pancreatic cancer. His recovery, attributed to everything from psychic healers to native herbal medicine, is featured in the film, Ronnie Hawkins: Still Alive and Kicking. In 2005, he was awarded an honorary degree from Laurentian University. Also Hawkins recently has reissued most of his albums on CD through Unidisc Music Inc. (info Wikipedia)
Various clips of Ronnie "moon walking" in 1959. This is one of the better ones albeit poor soundtrack.