Sunday, May 15, 2011

Ronnie Hawkins

Mister Dynamo Ronnie Hawkins

Once upon a time teenagers could get together for a party and bad things didn't have to happen. Once upon a place the kids could have a great time with very little money. 

That place and time was small town America in the fifties and early sixties. When one of the kids parent's gave permission we had what was called sock hops or house parties. We just moved back the furniture and rolled up the rug. Bam, there was a dance floor ready for the boogie. All we needed was a record player and a few favorite albums. Here are the ones I brought. I'll let you classify our taste in music.

Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks

My records were: Buddy Holly's "Reminiscing" and a Ritchie Valens, both were purchased right after they were killed. I always had Bobby Blue Bland and a Jimmy Reed, then the real party record, the one that kept us on the dance floor was "Ronnie Hawkin's and the Hawks, Mister Dynamo". 

Ronnie was a town favorite, not just because he was from Arkansas but his former band mates had come back from Canada and were gigging around the state. They had even played for our high school prom the year before. I missed it. Away at "boarding school", some of my friends wrote me about what a good time they had.

Ronnie Hawkins, "The Hawk"

Ronnie Hawkins left Arkansas in the late fifties. He went to Canada. Before leaving he had created quite a rockabilly reputation across the mid south. An athletic, almost acrobatic stage act with more energy than an Olympic team, The Hawks had a reputation for putting on a hell of a show. It seemed no matter what part of Arkansas you traveled you heard about this Ronnie Hawkins. I thought he was from far east Arkansas until I read his bio. 

Ronnie's birth town was Huntsville, Arkansas. If you wanted to pick an epicenter of hillbilly culture Huntsville could well be your choice. They even built the Dog Patch theme park near there. That is not a negative comment, at least not from my viewpoint. I am just saying, Huntsville is located up in the Boston Mountains far, far away from major cities and biways. It truly would have been a remote community when Ronnie's family lived there. I tell you this to add to Ronnie's authenticity as a rockabilly artist according to geography as well as sound. 

Early Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks

Back to the parties and his gigging...Wild Little Willie, Forty Days, Mary Lou....we sang everything on that album, over and over again. We danced like there was no tomorrow when his songs were on the turntables. The band's energy came through the air right into our bodies. Yes, we were fit and young. Most of us played sports and could run all day but the dancing to the likes of Ronnie and Buddy Holly was like a hard work out. I think that's why my blues records went over with these white teenagers. We needed a breather and the blues was perfect for slowing it down a little.

Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks toured Arkansas from the college clubs in Fayetteville to the beer joints of West Memphis, from Texarkana to the Missouri line. They knew the honky tonks of the hills as well as the juke joints along the Mississippi. They were crowd pleasers wherever they went.

I have included a few video links below. I dare you to put on your headphones and listen to this guy. 50 years later and he is still kicking tail. In Canada they think of him as a legend. I've got news for them and him. He was a legend way before he left his native state and it was our loss.

Ronnie Hawkins

Please go to the info link to learn more about a great, great part of rock and roll history. Ronnie's Hawk's produced what was later called "The Band". An outfit I would put up against anyone's legend. If you need any proof of the talent involved with Ronnie's Hawks just watch the documentary, "The Last Waltz". Nuff said.

Ronnie, hope your doing o.k. Don't forget what Levon's daddy told you bout Canadians. 

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Whoops...What no induction into the Cleveland (?) Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ???????

Ronnie Hawkins and Robbie Robertson in the Last Waltz

His band is in it but not him ?  

Once again a huge miscarriage of rock and roll justice...Ronnie your now in the one that counts.....This Fan's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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