Dale Hawkins

Dale Hawkins (born, Delmar Allen Hawkins, Aug. 22, 1936) died yesterday, he had been suffering from colon cancer for the past few years. He cut some of the greatest rock’n’roll records of all time for the Checker label between 1956-61 (a full discography can be found here).
Since all these sides and their outtakes have been re-issued by Ace, Bear Family and Norton
I’m not going to post any tunes, you can buy ’em. If those labels go out of business, there won’t be anymore rock’n’roll.
After leaving Checker he cut some singles for Tilt, a mediocre twist album for Roulette, produced hits for the 5 Americans and Mouse & the Traps amongst others, made a good country album for Bell in the 70’s and generally kept busy on the other side of the glass. He returned to performing in the 90’s and at the first Ponderosa Stomp, Dr. Ike re-united Dale with James Burton who as a fifteen year old had played on Suzi Q, his first and greatest hit. It was the highlight of an incredible night of music, too bad so many people missed it since they went onat 7 PM.
I’ve been meaning to post about Dale Hawkins, whose band was the training ground for so many great guitar plays (Burton, Roy Buchanan, three fingered Carl Adams, Kenny Paulson about whom nobody seems to know anything other than he died of a heroin overdoes in ’73,
and many others). Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to find the right words to express just how great Dale Hawkins was, and I still can’t. So do yourself a favor, you’ll appreciate it more if you actually have to work for it, dig out those records, or go find ’em. They’re as good as it gets.
RIP Dale Hawkins.

11 thoughts on “Dale Hawkins”

  1. Gonna miss the hell outa this guy. Always a high point of the Ponderosa Stomp, and last year's reunion with James Burton onstage proved once and for all Dale wasn't gonna go down without one helluva fight. My favorite Dale Hawkins memory has to be from the 2008 Stomp, backed as always by Deke Dickerson's Eccofonics. Dale began to introduce a number with an amazing, seemingly incoherent childhood reminiscence of “Pootie Tang”, a mythical character he described as “sorta the Black Spiderman…” As he went deeper into his tale, the look on Deke's drummer became increasingly seized with a combination of bewilderment and terror, as Dale's intro was providing absolutely NO clue as to what the song was he intended to play! And somehow, like some miracle from the skies, they all managed to kick into the same song (“Bang Bang”, as it turned out), and it somehow all made sense, Pootie Tang reference and all. A genius moment in a lifetime of genius moments.

  2. I just spun the Checker LP, still an absolute classic (a much overused word, but entirely accurate in this case). In fact, I DJed 45s of Suzie Q on Friday nite & Hot Dog on Saturday…Saw Dale play once, at a Ponderosa Stomp, at a church, bout seven/eight years back… either he was as pissed as a parrot or I was!RIPJoss

  3. this is very sad. i'm lucky to have seen him perform a few times and meet him. He was very sweet with plenty of enthusiasm and love for his fans. Wildcat Tamer is a good record he put out in the late 90s.

  4. I saw Dale Hawkins a few years ago here in Nashville, it was his birthday and his friends & family held a surprise birthday party at a show he played here at 3rd & Lindsley. I got to meet him and he was a very nice guy. I've loved his music for a long time, from his Chess/Checker material up through his recent albums like the spectacular “Wildcat Tamer” with Kenny Brown (R.L. Burnside's guitar player, North Mississippi bluesman) on guitar. He let me videotape the show. I haven't watched it since but I will now look for it. I will try to share it somewhere like Dime-a-dozen, HungerCity or perhaps one of these great blog sites would like to share it. I also saw him at the Ponderosa Stomp in New Orleans a few years back, being backed by Deke Dickerson & band. Again, it was great. Thanks, Dale, I'm going to miss you and your music.


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