“This band played the fastest, most violent rock ‘n’ roll that I’ve ever heard. It was very exciting and very explosive. I loved the dynamics, the style. Anyway, it was just the way they looked. How young they were. They weren’t as young as me but they were pretty young so I could relate to that. And Ronnie was like this animal, lunging around with one arm hanging down, being very neanderthal about it, very primitive about it. I liked it a lot.”
Robbie Robertson, on seeing The Hawks perform for the first time, before joining.
“Hawkins and Bo Diddley rehearsed in November, 1984 before rattling the chandeliers of the Royal York Hotel’s elegant Imperial Room.”
(more about Bo below)
The Hawk’s Majestic Flight
By David McGee
These photos courtesy of
“Ronnie and Wanda at their farm with John and Yoko”
From Ronnie’s Bio courtesy of a big Ronnie fan:
“In 1969, John Lennon and Yoko Ono stayed with Ronnie on his farm in Mississauga for a couple of weeks during their peace crusade and took the Hawkins’ on their train ride to see Canada’s Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau. Afterwards (remember the bed-in!), Ronnie and music journalist Ritchie Yorke were recruited by Lennon as peace emissaries and visited China. When Ronnie went to Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and recorded ‘Down In The Alley’ with Duane Allman in 1970, Lennon helped boost the single and recorded a promotional spot for it.”
Having a drink with Bobby
“Bo-Diddley, parked in front of Hawkins’ Toronto night club, Le Coq D’or”
Ronnie Hawkins also recorded Bo Diddley’s songs
From the website:
“Also found a site with sound bites from some of Hawkin’s early works. “40 Days”, “Mary Lou”, “Bo Diddley”, “Who Do You Love”, and “Ruby Ruby” are ones I vividly remember hearing on the radio as a kid. The 1963 clips of “Bo Diddley” and “Who Do You Love” are probably “the” definitive versions of those two songs which Hawkins performed live as a medly. Robbie Robertson is playing lead guitar and I imagine the rest of the band is there as well. The song “Hey Boba Lou”, recorded by Hawkins in 1960, was written by a 15 year old Robbie Robertson. This old stuff sound’s rather tame by today’s standards, but you have to remember the era it was created and performed in. It was Hawkin’s generation of Memphis area rockers who turned old cottonfield work songs, Delta Mississippi Blues, Gospel, Bluegrass, and Country & Western into Rock & Roll.
“The Hawk in 1996 at the Juno Awards, with Hall of Fame inductees
John Kay of Steppenwolf, Denny Doherty of The Mamas and The Papas, Zal Yanovsky of The Lovin’ Spoonful and Domenic Troiano of Mandala and The James Gang. Ronnie received the Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award for a Lifetime Contribution to Canadian Music”
When I was traveling in Canada with a friend who shared a great love for music back in the 20th Century, we went to the club Ronnie Hawkins owned in Toronto, and had a great time chatting with him. When we asked him to play one of his songs, “Mary Lou,” he said even the guys in his band don’t know that one.
“My dad was a champion redneck, liked to drink, chase women, fight, and do all those things that rednecks like. My mother was the complete opposite – she was a religious fanatic who never missed church in 40 years and used to give 10 percent of all she earned to the church, which really pissed my dad off.”
Ronnie Hawkins, on his parents, Jasper and Flora Hawkins.
“When we were kids, we used to slip around here and there and get into those watermelon patches to get one to eat. Well, Mr. Winters – he’s the farmer who owned all those watermelon patches and had a ’37 Ford pickup that I wanted – one day that old farmer caught us and said, ‘Now look, boys, I know you been taking those melons, so I’m going to give you a warning now. I poisoned one of those watermelons out there in that field and I’m the only one who knows where it is. If you want to take a chance and eat the fucker, and kill yourself, well you just go on ahead.
“Damn. And he knew where it was, too! Well, I had to do something. Just had to. The next morning I came to that old farmer. “Let me tell you something, Mr. Winters,” I said. “Now there are two poisoned watermelons out there in that patch and I’m the only one who knows where the other one is. So do you want to negotiate?’
“Damn, but we were young and wild and rockin’ in those days.”
Ronnie Hawkins on his childhood.