Screamin Jay Hawkins (1929-2000) you are this month’s Man of the Moment!
The first time I learned about Screamin Jay Hawkins was when I was watching a movie called “Mystery Train” (1989) directed by Jim Jarmusch. Screamin Jay Hawkins was the night porter in the movie and I remember him wearing this vibrant red jacket.
And he just stood out to me in the movie so naturally I had to look him up on youtube and google. And I am glad that I did! Because this was the first video on youtube that I saw of his performance:
He had quite a strong stage presence and character and I really like the song. I heard so many different versions of “I Put a Spell on You” but I always prefer the original one. He originally wrote this song as a romantic light song however he say when he came to the studio to record the song his producer at the time named Arnold Maxin brought in a bunch of food and alcohol that everyone got so drunk and produced this weird funky version of the song. But Screamin Jay Hawkins liked this version and the way he sung it that he kept this version and also changed the way he sung. He decided that it was worth him screaming and singing the lyrics in his songs And that is how his stage name Screamin was added to Jay Hawkins.
He went from a regular blues singer: Jay Hawkins:
to Screamin Jay Hawkins:
What also makes Scream Jay Hawkins “Man of the Moment” worthy is that he is the first musician who is considered to be a shock rock performer.
Shock rock is a musician that performs over the top live shows with the use of costumes, props, and wild effects such as fake blood, and fireworks.
Screamin Jay Hawkins performances were extremely shock rock. He would start his performances by getting out of a coffin while wear a cape and singing into a skull that he nicked name “Henry.”
“I put a Spell on You”, “Person to Person” and “Alligator Wine” are some of my favorite songs of his. And he is definitely a performers that is worth looking up on Youtube.
Fun Fact: At the age of 13 he enlisted in the army and actually served in the front duty for combat duty.
So Congrats again Screamin Jay Hawkins!
Until Next time!
Additional source: Wikipedia