Gary: I am thinking a little about artists from the 50’s that were not big, but had an impact, yet today they are all but forgotten.
I am a huge Ronnie Hawkins fan and the man who passed on was his cousin Dale Hawkins.
Now most people have no idea who he is, but he did write and record one of “THE” Rock and Roll songs. So here is a little tribute to Mr. Susie Q himself…
Dale Hawkins Then…
… and Now
Dale Hawkins (born Delmar Allen Hawkins on August 22, 1936 in Goldmine, Louisiana) was a pioneer American Rock singer, songwriter, and rhythm guitarist often called the architect of the Swamp Rock Boogie. (Fellow rockabilly pioneer Ronnie Hawkins is his cousin.)
In 1957, Dale 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, he preferred to blend that with the uniquely heavy blues sound of black Louisiana artists for his recording of his Swamp-Rock classic:
This song was the follow-up to Susie Q, I bought it and loved it but it did not make the top 40. 1957/
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.
Hawkins went on to a long and successful career, recording a number of songs for Chess Records. In 1998, Ace Records issued a compilation CD titled “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.
Dale’s career wasn’t limited to recording or performing. He hosted a teen dance party, “The Dale Hawkins Show,” on WCAU-TV in Philadelphia. He next turned his talents to producing, 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.
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 in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Unfortunately the most recognized version of Susie Q is by Creedance Clearwater Revival, but the great thing about the original is the guitar riff is non other than the great James Burton. Now Cross Ties features D J Fontana (Elvis Drummer) and the great Roy Buchanan on guitar. Roy also is the guitar player on My Babe. I believe the guitar player on Tornado is Kenny Paulsen or Paulson, not sure, but he played with Ronnie, was the guitar player on Buzz Buzz a diddle it for Freddy Cannon. Dale surrounded himself with some of the best musician’s the 50’s had to offer.