Dale Hawkins loses Battle with Cancer by Robert "Nighthawk" Tooms

Posted on 2/15/2010 by Robert "Nighthawk" Tooms

(Memphis, Tennessee)On Saturday, February 13, 2010, music legend Dale Hawkins succumbed to a long battle with cancer. Last night I received information from friends and family members in Louisiana that Dale passed away. The preponderance of you have heard the many versions of Dale's song "Suzy Q" but many of you do not know the wealth of music that this classic Rockabilly from the Golden age bestowed upon our American musical landscape so I shall endeavor to fill in the blanks.

Here's what will be published by the family for Dale's obituary:

The address for the funeral home is:

North Little Rock Funeral Home
1921 Main St., North Little Rock, Ark.

Delmar Allen "Dale" Hawkins, singer, songwriter, and producer, was born in
Goldmine, La., August 22, 1936 and passed away in Little Rock, Ark., on
Saturday, February 13, 2010. Dale was born into a family of musicians. His
father, some uncles and cousins were part of a group known as "The Hawkins
Family" that toured Arkansas and Oklahoma in the 1930's and 1940's. His
father, "Skipper" Hawkins was one of the original "Sons of the Pioneers"
singing group. His first cousin, Ronnie Hawkins, was a recording artist in
the 1950's and 1960's and still performs. Dale's brother, Jerry Hawkins,
was in the music industry for a period of time before going into private

In addition to his classic "Suzie Q", Dale recorded over 40 songs on the
"Chess" label for the now legendary Leonard Chess. He was the third
entertainer to appear on Dick Clark's American Bandstand and was the first
white artist to perform at the "Apollo Theatre" in Harlem and the "Regal" in
Chicago. After appearing on the CBS television Show "Big Beat" in the late
1950"s, he was asked to "guest host" the show. The guest slot became a
permanent job and "Big Beat" became the "Dale Hawkins Show" whose guests
included the top entertainers of that time.

In the mid-sixties Dale turned to behind-the-scenes work as a producer and
A&R man and produced hits like "Not Too Long Ago" for Joe Stampley and the
Uniques, "Western Union" by the Five Americans, "Do It Again A Little Bit
Slower" by Jon & Robin, and then later worked as the A&R Director of RCA'S
West Coast Division.

In the eighties and nineties, Dale returned to writing, recording, and
entertaining. During this period, Dale recorded many CD's including the
classic "Wildcat Tamer" and the critically acclaimed "LA, Memphis, and
Tyler, Texas".

Several years ago Dale was diagnosed with cancer. He faced the news the
only way he knew how. He kept on singing and entertaining across the U.S.A.
and Europe until he became too weary to go on.

Dale is a member of the "Rockabilly Hall of Fame", the "Louisiana Music Hall
of Fame", and served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean conflict.

His mother, Estelle Taylor Phillips, and father, Delmar "Skipper" Hawkins,
predeceased him. Dale is survived by his loving sons, Jeffrey and Jay Paul;
his brother, Jerry and wife, Pat, of Bossier City, LA., his sister, Linda
Snider and husband, Grady, of Alexandria, LA.; and his loyal
companion/special friend, Flo Murdock. He cherished his three
grandchildren: Marshall, William and April. Dale leaves his music to
comfort a great host of family members and friends.

Visitation will be from 5:30 p.m./7:30 p.m., Wednesday, February 17, 2010,
at the North Little Rock Funeral Home in North Little Rock, Ark. Services
will be held at 10:00 a.m., Thursday, February 18, 2010 with burial services
following in Riverside Cemetery, St. Paul Ark.

In lieu of flowers please make memorial donations to the charity of your
choice or just help a struggling musician.

From Wikipedia:

"Delmar Allen "Dale" Hawkins (August 22, 1936 - February 13, 2010) was a pioneer American rock singer, songwriter, and rhythm guitarist who was often called the architect of swamp rock boogie.[2] (Fellow rockabilly pioneer Ronnie Hawkins is his cousin.)

In 1957, Hawkins was playing at Shreveport, Louisiana clubs, and although his music was influenced by the new rock and roll style of Elvis Presley and the guitar sounds of Scotty Moore, Hawkins blended that with the uniquely heavy blues sound of black Louisiana artists for his recording of his swamp-rock classic, "Susie Q."

Fellow Louisiana guitarist and future Rock and Roll Hall of Famer James Burton provided the signature riff and solo. The song was chosen as one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. Creedence Clearwater Revival's acid rock rendition of the song on their 1968 debut album, helped launch their career and today it is probably the best known version.

John Fogarty and Dale Hawkins in Little Rock, Arkansas

Hawkins went on to a long and successful career, recording a number of songs for Chess Records. In 1998, Ace Records issued a compilation album, Dale Hawkins, Rock 'n' Roll Tornado which contained a collection of his early works and previously unreleased material.

Other recordings include the cult classic "LA, Memphis and Tyler, Texas," and a 1999 release, "Wildcat Tamer," of all-new recordings that garnered Hawkins a 4-star review in Rolling Stone. However, his career was not limited to recording or performing. He hosted a teen dance party, The Dale Hawkins Show, on WCAU-TV in Philadelphia.

He then became a record producer, and found success with the Uniques' "Not Too Long Ago," the Five Americans' "Western Union," Jon & Robin's "Do It Again - A Little Bit Slower." He served as executive vice president of Abnak Records; Vice President, Southwest Division, Bell Records (here he produced Bruce Channel, Ronnie Self, James Bell, the Festivals, the Dolls, and the Gentrys); and A&R director, RCA West Coast Rock Division, working with Michael Nesmith and Harry Nillson. In the 1990s, he produced "Goin Back to Mississippi" by R. L. Burnside's slide guitarist, Kenny Brown.

My friend Kenny Brown's CD produced by Dale Hawkins

Hawkins' pioneering contributions have been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.

In 2006, he was diagnosed with colon cancer and began radiation therapy, while continuing to perform occasionally. In October 2007, The Louisiana Music Hall of Fame honored Dale Hawkins for his contributions to Louisiana music by inducting him into The Louisiana Music Hall Of Fame.

At the same time, he released his latest recording, "Back Down to Louisiana," inspired by a trip to his childhood home. It was recognized by the UK's music magazine, Mojo, as #10 in the Americana category in their 2007 Best of issue, while "LA, Memphis and Tyler, Texas," was awarded #8 in the reissue category.

Hawkins died on February 13, 2010, from colon cancer."

A trouper of the first order until the end, during the past 4 years, Dale Hawkins scheduled performances around chemotherapy, and even recorded some new songs that have not been released yet. His unique talents will be missed by fans worldwide.

© Robert "Nighthawk" Tooms, 2010


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