Screamin' Jay Hawkins - Biography 1960-1969
- 1 1960s
- 2 1960
- 3 1962
- 4 1965
- 5 1966
- 6 1967
- 7 1968
- 8 1969
Like many 1950s rockers, Hawkins has a difficult time in the following decade. He works clubs in Hawaii and tours US military bases in the Far East. His biggest successes come in Europe, where he continues to enjoy wide popularity. In England, he finds imitators in Screaming Lord Sutch, Arthur Brown, and the rock band Black Sabbath.
[unknown location]: Screamin' Jay Hawkins recording session for King Records.
Musicians: Screamin' Jay Hawkins
New York: Screamin' Jay Hawkins recording session for Enrica Records.
Musicians: Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Teddy McRae Orchestra
| I hear voices
| Just don't care
| Wake up and live
| Armpit no. 6
Screamin' Jay Hawkins and the Chicken Hawks release the single I hear voices [US: Enrica 1010]. Hawkins then joins forces with female singer Shoutin' Pat Newborn who suffers burns when one of Hawkins' fuseboxes explodes at a club in Miami while she is watching his act. They become close friends and form a partnership: Screamin' Jay and Shoutin' Pat.
Philadelphia: Screamin' Jay Hawkins and Shoutin' Pat Newborn recording session for Chancellor Records.
Musicians: Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Shoutin' Pat Newborn, Russ Faith Orchestra
| Nitty gritty
Screamin' Jay Hawkins and Shoutin' Pat Newborn release their introspective single "Ashes" [US: Chancellor 1117], and then move to Hawaii where Hawkins plays piano and emcees at Jack Cione's Forbidden City nightclub in Honolulu.
Honolulu: Screamin' Jay Hawkins and Shoutin' Pat Newborn recording session for Sound of Hawaii.
Musicians: Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Shoutin' Pat Newborn, unknown orchestra
| Seems like you just don't care
In Honolulu Jay Hawkins meets and marries Virginnia Sabellona, a very pretty woman six years his junior. The nuptials do not please Pat, who plunges a nine-inch butcher's knife into Jay's chest, puncturing his lung and diaphragm. So her services are eventually dispensed.
Hawkins is "rediscovered" by John and Gloria Cann, jazz buffs who are holidaying in Hawaii. Cann takes the fully-recovered Hawkins back to New York and secures a contract with Roulette Records.
New York: Screamin' Jay Hawkins recording session for Roulette Records.
Musicians: Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Sammy Lowe Orchestra
| The Whammy
| Feast of the Mau Mau
| A hard day's night
| Party girl
early January 1965
Screamin' Jay Hawkins shares a billing with Charlie and Ray at the Apollo's "The all gold oldies show"
12 January 1965
Nina Simone records "I put a spell on you" in New York. The song is released on the LP I PUT A SPELL ON YOU [US mono: Philips PHM 200-172] [US stereo: Philips PHS 600-172] [GB: Philips BL 7671] [DE: Philips 652-068 BL].
John Cann negotiates Screamin' Jay Hawkins first tour of Britain with Don Arden's Galaxy Entertainments. Word of Hawkins' adventures had preceded him: "I put a spell on you" had been released in Britain on a Fontana 78 and it was a regular favourite among the mods at Guy Steven' Scene Club.
Jay emerges from customs at six in the morning, setting fire to his beard as he makes his entrance... Remembers Bill Millar: "Cliff White and I were among those who rode from the airport to the hotel in the back of Don Arden's Jaguar. Jay played to the gallery: He broke into bloodcurdling screams for no apparent reason and shook Henry - a gleaming skull on a stick - at bewildered passers-by. We behaved like star-struck fans and asked the sort of questions which star-struck fans ask. He told us that his favourite male singers were Roy Hamilton, Frank Sinatra and Nappy Brown ("man, that cat's got so much soul"); his favourite female singers were Big Maybelle and Brenda Lee. Groups? He liked the Chantels, the Four Lads and the Kingston trio. He signed pictures with the phrase I love you madly, a hit for Charlie and Ray with whom he'd shared an Apollo billing three weeks before. Wonderful stories emerged: of Esquerita's questionable gender; of Little Willie John who was standing trial of murder; of Huey "Piano" Smith, who allegedly stole Don't you just know it after seeing Jay perform this nonsensical rocker at a concert in Baltimore; of Larry Williams who interred Jay in his coffin together with a diarrhoeic monkey." Jay and Ginny stay at an apartment at The White House overlooking Regent's Park.
2 February 1965
Screamin' Jay Hawkins plays the opening night of his British tour at Wallington Town Hall. Remembers Bill Millar: "Hawkins was never in better form: he ran on and off stage, did the splits, played piano, waved his cloak like a rabid bullfighter and screamed a slew of rock'n'roll classics for well over an hour. Sadly, the louder his fans cheered, the more the locals booed. They came to the Town Hall every Tuesday to get pickled and practice their chat-lip lines to the strains of Freddie and the Dreamers or Dave Berry and the Cruisers. They certainly didn't want anyone to complicate things by putting on a show. Eventually, fighting broke out and we escaped via the dressing room and car park, skulking along in the dark behind the former Golden Gloves middle-weight. I don't think Jay was quite so wild again, but elsewhere audiences were ecstatic."
3 February 1965
Screamin' Jay Hawkins plays a concert at the Flamingo club in London. Writes the Record Mirror: "Stars and showbiz personalities rubbed shoulders with mods and even some rockers in Soho's Flamingo last week to witness a fantastic display by Screamin' Jay Hawkins. On his first British tour, Jay yelled his way through forty-five minutes of action-packed songs. The Whammy, Alligator wine, Strange, Party doll and Little bitty pretty one were delivered by a human tornado who whipped up the kind of storm not seen in these parts for some time. Jay clutched his friendly skull Henry throughout throughout his act and even made the thing smoke a cigarette."
7 February 1965
Screamin' Jay Hawkins plays a concert at the Bromley Court Hotel. Writes the Record Mirror: "At Bromley Court Hotel on Sunday, Jay got so carried away that he ran around the ballroom and knocked over an amplifier. Then he returned to the stage and made flames shoot from his fingertips before playing his sax. Feast of the Mau Mau and What'd I say got great cheers and it comes as no surprise to hear that Jay's stay here will probably be extended.
Screamin' Jay Hawkins also plays as opening act for T-Bone Walker at London's Twisted Wheel and later joins Walker for a stunning version of "Mumblin' blues".
Jay is interviewed by Jimmy Saville on the British TV and also appears on ITV's pop series Thank your lucky stars where he mimes "The Whammy".
6 April 1965
Larry Williams cuts his live album for Sue Records - among the attendants is Screamin' Jay Hawkins (hence the inclusion of impromptu verses like "Saw Screamin' Jay Hawkins with Long Tall Sally in the coffin / She don't love him but she do it very often").
"I hear voices" reaches number 14 on Record Mirror's newly-inaugurated R&B chart. Jay goes to the zoo, and to the movies (The curse of the coffin, actually) and he also enhances some lucky young people's wedding, when, appearing into the afternoon summer sunlight they are greeted by the sight of Screamin' Jay Hawkins leaning from a hotel window opposite the church, waving Henry and firing blanks from a .32 shouting "Shame on you!"
3 May 1965
London: Screamin' Jay Hawkins recording session for Planet Records.
Musicians: Screamin' Jay Hawkins, unknown orchestra
| Night and day
| Why dream
| I wanna know
| Your kind of love
| Change your ways
| Servin' time
| Alright, OK, you win
| Please forgive me
| Move me
| I'm so glad
| My Marion
| All night
| Better than nothing
| I'll be there
| The pass
| If you were but a dream
| I feel alright
4 June 1965
After a dramatic bust-up with Don Arden Jay decides to fly home immediately. Bill Millar and his friends have gone up to his flat with a view to catching Donnie Elbert at the Flamingo, but end up deflecting threatening phone calls from the promoter and nervously watching Jay while he oils a revolver. He cannot take much luggage back in a hurry, and when they finally say their goodbyes they are loaded down with Henry, two capes, several gonks, a pair of zebra-striped shoes, a small but highly-prized record collection (including his first LP, AT HOME WITH SCREAMIN' JAY HAWKINS), a foot-high jar crammed with threepenny bits, and a suitcase full of flash-powder and fuse-boxes.
Subsequently Hawkins has a profound influence on Arthur Brown, who copies his style. The famous stage act is also replicated by the rock group Black Sabbath (Ozzy Osbourne) for its fans, who are a nearly a generation removed from those who have seen Hawkins in his prime.
On leaving Britain, Hawkins re-locates to New York, hanging out with Little Joe Cook and Titus Turner (on a wave because RCA had released Elvis' version of Turner's song, "Tell me why").
New York: Screamin' Jay Hawkins recording session for EMI Records.
Musicians: Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Walter Young Orchestra
| Poor folks
| Your kind of love
Note: Jay brings social conscience to R&B with "Poor folks" and sends boxfuls of the Providence 45 to fans in Europe. Hawkins has originally written these songs for Nina Simone, whose sombre version of "I put a spell on you" has reached the R&B Top 30 earlier in 1965. But Simone refuses to record them, and Jay is left to do so himself in typically macabre fashion.
New York: Screamin' Jay Hawkins recording session for Laurie Records.
Musicians: Screamin' Jay Hawkins, unknown orchestra
| I put a spell on you
| Alligator wine
| Angel of Hell
Screamin' Jay Hawkins returns to Hawaii.
1 April 1966
Jay Hawkins arrives in London for his 2nd UK tour on which he is accompanied by Herbie Goins and the Nighttimers. He is playing the Ram Jam in Brixton that same night. Remembers Bill Millar: "Luminous-socked rockers had displaced West Indians for the evening and Hawkins came on as if it were still rock'n'roll's finest hour. He eclipsed everything around at the time, agitating his way through The Whammy and concluding with Shout, a feast of improvisation. The rest of the tour, for Roy Tempest's Global Promotions, proceeded without difficulty. Only ten people (including New Orleans soulstar, Lee Dorsey) turned up at The Scene but Hawkins was no less vigorous or affecting. Before a crowd of black servicemen at Douglas House (a US Airforce bas) he completely transformed his act with an earthly recital of jokes and far fewer songs, though a version of Bobby Lewis' Mumbles blues electrified this hippest of audiences."
22 April 1966
Another frenzied night at London's Flamingo club completes the British dates.
3 May 1966
New York: Screamin' Jay Hawkins recording session for Holton Records.
Musicians: Screamin' Jay Hawkins, unknown orchestra
Back in the USA, Hawkins signs with Decca.
8 July 1966
New York, Association Recording Studio: Screamin' Jay Hawkins recording session for Decca Records.
Production: Dick Jacobs
Musicians: Screamin' Jay Hawkins (vocals) ; Leroy Kirkland Orchestra: Edward Barefield (alto sax), Wilbur Bascomb (third trumpet), William Butler (guitar), Arthur Clarke (second tenor sax), Elmer Crumbley (first trombone), David "Panama" Francis (drums), Richard Harris (second trombone), Ernest Hayes (piano), Hayward Henry (baritone sax), Reunald Jones (second trumpet), Leroy Kirkland (leader), Albert Lucas (bass), Joseph Newman (first trumpet), Zane Paul Zacharoff (first tenor sax), unknown chorus
Note: Session takes places from 5 to 8 PM
| I'm not made of clay (Bob Stone)
| All night (Jalacy Hawkins)
| Mountain jive (Jalacy Hawkins)
| I'll be there
Note: "Mountain jive" is a re-write of "Little demon" (1956), including the extraordinary couplet: "The lips on that chick were all out of place / She could kiss a man, and wash and dry his face".
29 December 1966
New York, Associated Recording Studio: Screamin' Jay Hawkins recording session for Decca Records.
Production: Dick Jacobs
Musicians: Screamin' Jay Hawkins (vocals) ; Norbert De Coteaux Orchestra: William Butler (guitar), Norbert De Coteaux (leader), Eric Gale (guitar), Joseph Grimaldi (tenor sax), Ernest Hayes (piano), Buddy Lucas (baritone sax), Jouis Mauro (bass), Benjamin Gordon Powell (trombone), Bernard Purdie (drums), Ernest Royal (first trumpet), Warren Smith (percussion, conga), Joseph Wilder (second trumpet), unknown chorus
Note: Session takes place from 7 to 10 PM
| I put a spell on you (Jalacy Hawkins) [stereo mix without chorus]
| I put a spell on you (Jalacy Hawkins)
| Two can play this game
| Two can play this game [stereo mix without chorus]
| Shattered (Jalacy Hawkins)
| Shattered (Jalacy Hawkins) [stereo mix without chorus]
| You're an exception to the rule (Bob Stone)
| You're an exception to the rule (Bob Stone) [stereo mix without chorus]
Mr. and Mrs. Hawkins spend the rest of the 1960s in Hawaii. Though Jay speaks of being bored by the business and tired of the road, the best is yet to come...
US pop group Creedence Clearwater Revival covers "I put a spell on you" on their first album. The song is later included in lead singer and guitarist John Fogerty's solo repertoire.
The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown covers "I put a spell on you" on their first album.
24 January 1969
While recording in Twickenham (near London) The Beatles play a 2 minutes 14 seconds medley of their own song "Get back", Screamin' Jay Hawkins' "Little demon" (Paul McCartney sings one verse but can't remember the text) and the Chuck Berry songs "Maybelline", "You can't catch me" and "Brown eyed handsome man".
Screamin' Jay Hawkins signs with Philips Records.
Los Angeles: Screamin' Jay Hawkins recording session for Philips.
Musicians: Screamin' Jay Hawkins (vocals) ; unknown orchestra: unknown (steel)
| Makaha waves (Joseph Ryan)
| There's too many teardrops (Jalacy Hawkins)
Screamin' Jay Hawkins releases the strange, ill-fated single There's too many teardrops [US: Philips 40636], a straight country tune with a pedal steel player from the California Symphony Orchestra, inspired by the C&W saloon next to the Forbidden City in Honolulu. The reverse, "Makaha waves", is a tribute to the surfer's paradise on the west coast of Oahu, is written by Joseph Ryan, Hawkins' attorney in Hawaii. The record is only issued on Hawaii.
23-24 June 1969
North Hollywood, Club Amigo: Screamin' Jay Hawkins live recording for the album WHAT THAT IS! [US: Philips 600-319].
Producer: Milan Melvin
Musicians: Mike Anthony (guitar, banjo), Grahame Bond (piano), Herb Ellis (guitar), Carl "Beef" Gottlieb (backing vocals), Screamin' Jay Hawkins (vocals, piano), Eddie Hoh (drums), Plas Johnson (saxes), Ron Johnson (bass), Deirdre LaPorte (backing vocals), Théa Marcus (backing vocals), Ernest McLean (banjo), Earl Palmer (drums), Tom reid (backing vocals), Lyle Ritz (bass), Shorty Rogers (string arrangements), Christopher "Egg" Ross (backing vocals), Sal Valentino (backing vocals), Billy Watkins Singers (backing vocals)
Note: For the album he waxes another truly inspired classic: his gross and tasteful "Constipation blues", replete with predictable sound effects, wouldn't garner much airplay, but remains an integral part of his legacy throughout the rest of his career.
| What that is (Jalacy Hawkins)
| Feast of the Mau Mau (Jalacy Hawkins)
| Do you really love me (Jalacy Hawkins)
| Stone crazy (Jalacy Hawkins)
| I love you (Jalacy Hawkins)
| Constipation blues (Jalacy Hawkins)
|| [Moanin' 2-46 794- edit]|
| I'm lonely (Jalacy Hawkins) [strings were later overdubbed for the single version]
| Thing called woman (Jalacy Hawkins)
| Dig! (Jalacy Hawkins)
| I'm your man (Jalacy Hawkins)
| Ask him (Jalacy Hawkins)
| Reprise (Jalacy Hawkins)
Screamin' Jay Hawkins releases the well-publicized LP WHAT THAT IS! [US: Philips 600-319], a live album that makes no impression on the pop charts but which the Los Angeles Times calls "fine, fun-house horror stuff." The cover showed Hawkins lying in an expensive coffin with his eyes wide open and one hand on the rim of the lid. This was going to be the finest comeback since Count Dracula's resurrection, and the music lived u p to the promise of the sleeve. Here's Billboard columnist Ed Ochs on "Ask him":
- Can a gosepl disk be a top 40 hit? More commercial than "Oh Happy Day", Hawkins' pop-gospel ballad makes rock'n'roll out of a sax and guitar and a Baptist hymn. Blessed and sanctified by the glorious Billy Watkins Singers, "Ask him" could put religion in the jukeboxes - where it belongs. Black deejays and gospel fans who objected to the sacrilegious beat in "Oh happy day" would have an unhappy day trying to sit still for this foot-tapper.
Houston: Screamin' Jay Hawkins recording session for the album BECAUSE IS IN YOUR MIND (ARMPITRUBBER) [US: Philips 600-336].
Production: Huey P. Meaux
Sound engineer: Burt Frilot
Musicians: Screamin' Jay Hawkins (vocals, piano) ; more details unknown
| Moanin' (Jalacy Hawkins) [edit of 2-45 296 "Constipation blues"]
| Please don't leave me (Antoine Domino)
| I wanta know (Jalacy Hawkins)
| I need you (Jalacy Hawkins)
| My Marion (Jalacy Hawkins)
| Bite it (Last night) (The Mar-Keys)
| Move me (Jalacy Hawkins)
| Goodnight my love (Marascalco / Motola)
| Our love is not for three (Jimmy Jones)
| Ain't nobody's business (Grisham)
| Take me back (Jalacy Hawkins)
| Tryin' to reach my goal (McRee / Thomas / Thomas)
| So long (Harris / Melsher / Morgan)
| Trouble in mind (Richard M. Jones)
Note: "Please don't leave me" had been a R&B Top 10 hit for Fats Domino. "Goodnight my love" was a hit for Jesse Belvin in 1956. "Ain't nobody's business" was recorded by Jimmy Witherspoon in 1949. The Mar-Keys' million-selling instrumental "Last night" was re-titled "Bite it", while "I wanta know", although credited to Hawkins, is really the old Du-Droppers R&B hit dressed up with a Memphis beat and the kind of scream that demands caution. This nostalgia continues with "Take me back", a revival of the shuffling rocker which Hawkins cut for Grand in 1955, and culminates in a torchy "So long", written and recorded by orchestra leader Russ Morgan in 1940. Even "Move Me" and "My Marion" have appeared before: on the now scarce and sought-after album which Hawkins recorded for Shel Talmy's Planet label in 1965. The gritty funk rhythms of the newer songs are a tad incongruous, but even here rockers will note that "Trying to reach my goal" was penned by Sun alumni Cliff and Ed Thomas.