Monday, March 28, 2011

Screamin' Jay Hawkins

Born July 18th, 1929 in Cleveland,Ohio, Screamin' Jay Hawkins was a classically trained pianist and opera trained bass-baritone singer. His best known recording,"I Put A Spell On You",was intended to be recorded as a tender love ballad. By all reports, he happened to be drunk at a session and ended up recording a very different rendition,replete with howls,screams and gutteral gibberish.Upon hearing the results , all involved decided it was a better version and should be properly recorded. Hawkins had to re-learn the new version because he said he had no memory of his alcohol-fueled performance. The release resulted in over a million copies sold ,but did not appear on Billboard's pop or r'n'b charts.
 He put together an outrageous stage show using  such props as skulls, chattering teeth, crawling hands, flame pots, and a coffin from which he would emerge at the beginning of his performances. He died February 12th,2002.

One can easily follow a direct line from Hawkins to Screaming Lord Sutch, a British singer inspired by Hawkins who performed in horror -themed make up and garb , and employed many prominent UK musicians, such as Ritchie Blackmore and Jimmy Page. From there you can trace the line to acts like The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, Alice Cooper , Gene Simmons of Kiss, and even Lady GaGa !

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