Ronnie Hawkins died at the age of 87 Pi News

News Details

Ronnie Hawkins, a South American rockabilly artist who sowed the seeds for a Canadian music scene after moving north, has died at the age of 87.

Hawkins’ wife, Wanda, confirmed to the Canadian Press on Sunday morning that Peterborough had died at Ond Hospital. He has been facing various health issues for the last few years.

“He went quiet, he was as beautiful as ever,” he said in a phone interview from their home.

The singer of “Ruby Baby,” “Mary Lo” and Bo Tidley Cover “Who Do You Love” is known for his vibrant personality and enthusiastic stage presence, Mr. He received nicknames including Dynamo, Sir Ronnie, Rompin Ronnie and The Hawk.

Hawkins has been a watchdog for a generation of influential artists, and he was listed for his playback group Hawks, including musicians, who will play the folk artist while adapting the electric guitar during Bob Dylan’s infamous 1966 tour.

Five members of the Hawks later formed the band, including Eleven Helm and Robbie Robertson.

Although Hawkins clashed with some of his former bandmates, he joined the band on stage as part of their 1976 farewell performance captured on Martin Scorsese’s concert film “The Last Waltz”. Robertson later recalled in his memoir “Testimony” that Hawkins’ calling was, in part, a tribute to his influence.

“He’s very talented in collecting the best musicians,” Robertson told the Canadian Press in 2016.

“It was like a boot camp for musicians, learning music and when to do certain things and not to do certain things. He played an important role in everything.”

Born in Arkansas in 1935, Hawkins joined the Army Defense Force after high school while performing at Moonlight on the Black Hawks, a band formed by fellow musician AC Reid.

After completing his time in the military, he opened the Rockwood Club in Fightville, Ark, which became popular with artists such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison and Conway Twitty.

He finally delivered the best billing and started playing Ronnie Hawkins and Hawks, designing a bad guy look with thin black hair and flanks.

Stunned by the missteps of many years in his own music career, the singer-songwriter took advice from Twitter in 1958 to embark on a tour of Canada. He vowed that the country would be thirsty for bands interested in playing in small towns.

Without a record deal in his homeland, Hawkins saw Canada as a “Promised Land” – an unused market to sell his Memphis sound and build his reputation to the extent of crossover success in the United States. His intuition was perfect, and at the end of the decade Hawkins received two solo appearances on the Billboard Top 100 and appeared on “Dick Clark’s American Bandstand”.

In his memoirs, Robertson describes seeing Hawkins first play at the Dixie Arena in Toronto. His local band Soodes was hired to open the concert, but he admits that the show was easily stolen by the person who was his mentor.

“It’s the most violent, energetic, oldest rock ‘n’ roll I’ve ever seen and it was addictive,” Robertson wrote.

Musician Gary Lucas, who met Hawkins at the age of 16, lived with him and Wanda for eight years and became one of his closest friends, remembering how much the musician was influenced by his performances.

“He was doing double backpipes on a stage in the middle of a song – I’ve never seen that before,” Lucas said.

Many Hawkins – designer cars, large aviator sunglasses, a passion for women and parties – paved the way for emerging Canadian artists to enter the US market.

‚ÄúMost of them died of starvation,‚ÄĚ Hawkins said. “Agents will not book a Canadian team.”

So Hawkins aims to defraud his band, American license plates, band leaders, agents and club owners and pay for shows.

“They will say they’ve come from Scarborough – Tennessee,” he added.

Hawkins has been called “the father of Canadian rock” by some because he welcomed the idea of ‚Äč‚Äčbringing young musicians into his circle.

One of them was teenage David Clayton-Thomas, who attended Hawkins’ concerts at Le Coq d’Or Tavern on Yonke Street in Toronto, hoping he would be invited to sit with his band.

It happened one afternoon when Hawkins gave him the opportunity to “sing a song” on stage. Many years before becoming the Grammy Award-winning lead singer of Blood, Sweat and Tears, this performance led the bar owner to give Clayton-Thomas a long kick.

“That’s how it all started for me,” he said Sunday. “Ronnie was very supportive.”

Later that year, following the dissolution of the Clayton-Thomas Dean Band, Hawkins quickly lent his support.

“It’s Christmas time and Ronnie says, ‘Well, you can not be without work for Christmas. Come and work with my band.’ “

Not everyone is so lucky. Hawkins also had a reputation for rejecting low-performing or downline players who did not fit in well with his band.

Grammy Award-winning producer David Foster was one of many founded by Hawkins for living up to expectations.

He said, ‘You’m like a corpse on stage, I want people to look like they’re having fun. You’re not having fun with my music,’ ‘the Victoria-grown musician said in an interview in 2017.

“So he fired me, but we were best friends. He’s only one of the people who attracts good musicians … we all still adore him. He’s not a great musician, he’s not a great singer, he’s not a great singer. He’s a great entertainer and he’s had a lot of life and he taught us a lot. “

In 1969, the year John Lennon and Yoko Ono held their famous “Bed-in” show in Montreal to campaign for peace, the couple stayed at Hawkins Farm in Mississauga for two weeks. They then took Hawkins by train to Ottawa to see then-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. Lennon appointed Hawkins as peace envoy and they went to China together.

Throughout his life, Hawkins wrote about 500 songs and received numerous accolades and awards.

He won the Juno for Best Folk Male Singer in 1982 for the album “Legend in His Spare Time”. He was given a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame in October 2002, where Trojilee thanked hip rap baker Hawkins because he “took interested musicians and marinated them.” He was the recipient of the 2014 Order of Canada.

When Hawkins returned to Arkansas for several winters, he said he considered Canada his home – even though he had settled on a piece of land.

“There is no other place in the world more beautiful than Canada. I’ll have a lot of good friends here. A lot of illegals,” he said in 2000.

In 2002, Hawkins had a cancerous tumor removed from his pancreas three months after undergoing four bypass heart surgeries. The story was captured on the 2004 television documentary “Ronnie Hawkins: Still Alive and Kickin”, in which she contemplates meeting “The Big Rocker in the Sky” one day.

Within a month of announcing the singer’s recovery, former U.S. President and colleague Arkansas Bill Clinton, Foster and Paul Anga joined Hawkins’ friends at a party in Toronto. The trio sang a tribute version of “My Way” to the rocker.

Hawkins, who married in 1962, is survived by his wife Wanda, three grown children, Robbie, Leah and Ronnie Jr., and a group of musicians who considered him a close friend.

“He took me and my band as a family,” actor and singer Chris Christopherson paid tribute to Hawkins in 2002.

“If there’s a rock ‘n’ roll god, I know he’s just like this guy.”


This report by The Canadian Press was first published on May 29, 2022.