In 1957, Hawkins was playing at Shreveport, Louisiana clubs, and although his music was influenced by the new rock and roll style of Elvis Presley and the guitar sounds of Scotty Moore, Hawkins blended that with the uniquely heavy blues sound of black Louisiana artists for his recording of his swamp-rock classic Susie Q. The song was chosen as one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll and it was covered by Creedence Clearwater Revival and helped to launch their career in 1968.
The phrase "Suzy Q" refers to a dance step, and can be heard on many old blues records from the 1920s and 30s. But Hawkins personalized it into a tale of a sultry siren, propelled by a catchy lick laid down by guitar virtuoso James Burton, who was only 15
when "Suzy Q" was recorded. [Burton went on to establish himself as a legendary guitar player with Ricky Nelson, Elvis Presley, Emmylou Harris, John Denver, and others]. When the record took off, Hawkins hit the road, appearing on Dick Clark's "American Bandstand" and performing at such famed venues as New York's Apollo Theater. He continued to record, but never experienced another comparable hit, in part because many listeners and radio programmers wrongly assumed that Hawkins was black. The era's rigid, prejudicial boundaries hurt Hawkins career in both white and black markets. Hawkins went on to a long and successful career, recording a number of songs for Chess Records. He had only one other top forty song with La-Do-Dada in 1958.
He next turned his talents to producing, and found success with the Uniques' "Not Too Long Ago," the Five Americans' "Western Union," Jon & Robin's "Do It Again - A Little Bit Slower." He served as executive vice president of Abnak Records; Vice President, Southwest Division, Bell Records (here he produced Bruce Channel, Ronnie Self, James Bell, the Festivals, the Dolls, and the Gentrys); and A&R director, RCA West Coast Rock Division, working with Michael Nesmith and Harry Nillson.
In the 90s, he produced the critically-acclaimed "Goin Back to Mississippi" by R. L. Burnside's slide guitarist Kenny Brown. Despite some non-musical ventures.
In 1998, Ace Records issued a compilation CD titled "Dale Hawkins, Rock 'n' Roll Tornado" which contained a collection of his early works and previously unreleased material. Other recordings include the cult classic "LA, Memphis and Tyler, Texas," and a 1999 release, "Wildcat Tamer," of all-new recordings that garnered Hawkins a 4-star review in Rolling Stone. However, his career wasn't limited to recording or performing. He hosted a teen dance party, "The Dale Hawkins Show," on WCAU-TV in Philadelphia. Hawkins has remained active ever since. He's known as a live-wire performer, and has numerous projects in progress at his Hawk's Nest studio in North Little Rock, Arkansas. Hawkins' pioneering contributions have been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.
In 2005, he was diagnosed with colon cancer and began chemotherapy while continuing to perform in the US and abroad. In October 2007, The Louisiana Music Hall of Fame honored Dale Hawkins for his contributions to Louisiana music by inducting him into The Louisiana Music Hall Of Fame. At the same time, he released his latest recording, "Back Down to Louisiana," inspired by a trip to his childhood home. It was recognized by the UK's music magazine, Mojo, as #10 in the Americana category in their 2007 Best of issue, while "LA, Memphis and Tyler, Texas," was awarded #8 in the reissue category.
Hawkins died on February 13, 2010, from colon cancer in Little Rock, Arkansas.
(info edited from various sources mainly Wikipedia)
Dale Hawkins And James Burton-Susie Q/Who Do You Love-Live At The New Orleans House Of Blues.
Two legends performing together 52 years after co-writing and recording a swamp rock anthem at the 8th annual Ponderosa Stomp.