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Ronald "Ronnie" Hawkins (born January 10, 1935) is a rock and roll musician. He is a cousin to fellow rockabilly artist Dale Hawkins. Known as "Rompin' Ronnie" Hawkins or "The Hawk," he was a key player in the 1960s rock scene in Toronto, Canadamarker and his career has spanned 50 years. During that time, Hawkins has performed all across North America, recording more than twenty-five albums. His best-known hit singles 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.

Hawkins is also best remembered for his role as something of a talent scout. He played a pivotal role in the establishment of premiere backing bands, with the most successful being a spin-off of his band, The Hawks. After a move to Ontario, as band members dropped out- with the exception of drummer Levon Helm, they were replaced with four Canadian musicians who eventually moved on with Helm as their fifth member, backing Bob Dylan in the late 1960s, after developing a world-famous sound and band of their own, taking the name, The Band. Other musicians Hawkins recruited provided the makings of Robbie Lane & The Disciples, and Janis Joplin's Full Tilt Boogie Band.


Early days

Hawkins was born in 1935 in Huntsville, Arkansasmarker, just two days after the birth of Elvis Presley. At the age of nine, his family moved to nearby Fayetteville, Arkansasmarker. After graduating from high school, he studied physical education at the University of Arkansasmarker 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 Canadamarker in 1958. His first gig was at the Brass Rail Tavern (on Conway Twitty's advice)) in London, Ontariomarker where he became an overnight success. Hawkins decided to move to Canada permanently, and in 1964 became a permanent resident. His career spans over five decades and 25 records. His hits include "Forty Days", "Mary Lou", and "Hey Bo Diddley".

After relocating to Canada with his band, The Hawks, he made Peterborough, Ontariomarker his permanent home. Gradually, the members of the Hawks were replaced with young, talented Canadians; Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel and Garth Hudson. Levon Helm, who had started out with Hawkins as drummer and sometime vocalist was the only Americanmarker who remained in the band. This line-up of five multi-instrumentalists were the musicians who were later to become The Band. In the early 1970s, Hawkins noticed guitarist Pat Travers performing in Ontario nightclubs in the early 1970s 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 December 1969 Hawkins hosted John Lennon and Yoko Ono for a stay at his Mississauga, Ontariomarker 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 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 document 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 Torontomarker when Hawkins was inducted into Canada's Walk of Famemarker 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 Universitymarker. Also Hawkins recently has reissued most of his albums on CD through Unidisc Music Inc.

Adapted from the article Ronnie Hawkins, from Wikinfo, licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.

Ronnie Hawkins Discography

  • 1979: Ronnie Hawkins (1979) featuring James Burton and Waddy Wachtel on guitar, Dee Murray, (bass) Paul Butterfield (harmonica), Jerry Peterson (saxophone), Terry Danko (backing vocals) Garth Hudson (accordion/synthesizer), Jerry Somers (drums), Rick Shlosser (drums), Stan Szelest (piano), Carl Mathers (fiddle), Brooks Hunnicutt (chorus), Lisa Roberts (chorus), Phyllis St. James (chorus).

  • 1984: Making it Again



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